no returns and no refunds

I’ve ordered several things I do not want

Or like.

There was the coat that was too tight,

It’s plastic zipper straining at the seams.

The waffle maker breaking on day one,

And the shoes I never wore.

I could have sent them back,

Got my refund,

Tried out something else.

But now that I have something that I really hate,

Something none of us can send back in the post,

I wonder how I’ll deal with that?

I can’t stuff this one in a closet,

Close the doors and try forgetting that it’s there.

This, I have to hold on to,

I have to see it through,

Make friends with it.

It’s hard to love a thing that terrifies our human soul,

But sometimes it is necessary

For us to learn,

To grow,

And change our ways that went unquestioned

For longer than they should.

let’s all give our heroes a big round of applause (tonight at 8pm)

We read it in the history books,

About the day they stepped outside

And sang as one to toast the loved

Who’d helped us through the tougher times.

They opened doors and windows,

Peeping out from bright lit halls.

The sound they made was that of angel song.

It drifted through the clear Spring air,

Until it reached the hospitals and shops,

The places where the people worked

To keep the nation going.

Tonight at 8pm the British public are being asked to step outside their houses and clap for the people who are keeping the nation running in this time of crisis. There are, of course, our wonderful NHS workers who are working at the forefront of it all. But there are also the food manufacturers, the delivery drivers, the shop workers and a myriad of other people still working hard.

I think it’s a bit of a shame that I haven’t seen this spread around a bit more because I think that lots of people would love to show their appreciation. And in a time when we are all feeling really isolated, it is an opportunity for us all to feel united in something safely.

I don’t know if any of you have watched any of the videos that are circulating at the moment but the ones that show thousands of people leaning from their balconies and singing together are the ones that give me chills. They are so powerful.

My favourite of them all is one that I saw yesterday. A little girl in the UK was celebrating her birthday and obviously couldn’t have people over so the neighbours all came out onto their doorsteps and hung out of their windows to sing happy birthday. The whole street appeared to join in and it was such a beautiful moment that I’m sure she’ll remember for the rest of her life.

I know I only have a teeny, tiny following of a few hundred but I just want to do my bit and ask you to spare the time to go out and clap and cheer at 8pm, tonight (Thursday 26th March). Hopefully, if nothing else, it will lift the spirits of the people in your tiny part of the world.

Much Love

Rachel xx

#metoo

I can hold your hand

And tell you that it’s all OK

But is that really any good?

What is needed is a friend

Who has felt what you have felt.

One who’s been through something tough

And understands how hard it is

To live a life the same as you,

A person who can truly say #metoo.

Ooof! Things are just getting more and more intense as we go through this together. However, we all have our other struggles that we are battling and when you pair those with the virus, it’s enough for people to overflow with anxiety.

I’m hearing some terrible stories about people getting ill or having relationship problems during this crisis and they all must feel so lonely at this time. And what most people need in these times is someone to say the most powerful words we have at our disposal, me too.

It’s great to offer support to someone who is struggling but we always feel so much more comforted when we know that someone else has been through what we have and that they can truly identify with us. I don’t know why we are wired this way, but it almost feels soothing to know others have felt the pain I have.

I am going through a difficult time with my mother and just going on YouTube and reading some comments written by others whose relationships have broken down eased some of my pain. I think that I need to know that other people can go through the pain that I’m feeling and make it out the other side. Whatever the reason, I know that reading random comments was more soothing than talking to one of my close friends precisely because we could say me too.

So, if you are struggling with anything try and find some people that are in the same boat. I don’t really think that YouTube comments are always the best way forward but today it helped me! Some of the more helpful places would be support groups and the like.

Stay safe and fish out those people that are just like you, they’ll make you feel sane in a really crazy world.

Much Love

Rachel xx

we need a little faith, a faith, a faith

Lean,

Lean on something big,

Bigger than you.

Some may say it’s evil,

Tears the world apart.

Some may say it’s woo woo,

Just a hippy thing.

But I for one,

I need to lean

On something big

In scary times like this.

In the words of George Michael we need a faith, a faith, a faith. This whole situation that we find ourselves in at the moment is just too difficult for our human minds to comprehend. So it only makes sense that we find something bigger than ourselves to lean on.

I know that there are a lot of people out there that are extremely resistant when it comes to religion. There are wars fought over it and blood shed. But in everyday churches around the world a lot of people find a lot of peace and solace. There is community there and love and compassion. These are all things that we need by the bucket load at this moment in time.

And even if organised religion is not something you are willing to participate in, it’s so helpful to have something bigger than ourselves to lean on. We are all still like toddlers and we need a parent figure and God is that!

In addiction recovery, finding our own higher power is such an important part of keeping sober. We have proven that human power cannot rescue us and many will attest that handing everything over is so important.

And in the world today, so much control has been taken away from us. We can fight it and get angry and stressed, or we can hand it over and just accept where we are. It’s hard but it’s a beautiful process. We constantly slip and start to fight life again, but take notice of it happening and then get back on the right path.

Stay safe and love each other hard.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

the art gallery PHENOMENON #poetry #virus

Drifting round the silent rooms

It was the battle scene

That stopped me in my tracks.

Had that artist seen something,

A glimpse into the future world

Where desperate people cling for life

And turn there faces up to God

In hope that anyone can hear their cries.

I passed the painting with a shrug

And only now I feel the fear

That danced across the canvas wall

That seemed like just a window in

To worlds that never would or should

Collide with mine right here and now.

I remember going to the National Gallery quite often when I lived in London. We are very lucky to have museums in our capital that are free and they were great to visit on days off when I was feeling a bit frazzled. The art galleries were always the nicest as they were so quiet and calming.

However, this post isn’t about how to keep calm in times of stress (you can’t go to a museum anyway, because they’re all closed!!!). This is about those big battle scenes that you often see in the museums.

I would always stop and stare at the huge scenes, trying to take in every detail. They are kind of like Ye Olde Where’s Wally scenes and you can spend hours picking out all of the details. I used to look at all of the wide eyed men perishing on the field and wonder what these artists used to see when they closed their eyes. I had never seen war before so I didn’t know if it was an accurate depiction.

Although it had a lasting effect on me I would just shrug and move on. And that is very much what I had done with the virus until the last week. I had watched what was happening in China and just shrugged it off. I felt awful that people were dying, but I saw it as another world and one that I would never have to inhabit.

It’s only now that we have been hit by it that I understand how awful it is. I know this sounds really selfish but I’m sure that this is the way that most people think. It has made me feel bad about the way that I view the world and I hope that this awful situation helps us all to have a change of heart.

We now need to stop staring at the news like it’s a painting. We need to actively engage with each other and help where possible. This is the time when service to others is going to be more important than ever. We are all human beings and I have started to try to think less that as long as I’m OK it doesn’t matter about anyone else.

Make sure that you do stay safe and love each other. We’re lucky to have technology on our side so reach out and make sure your loved ones are OK.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

for such a time as this

The poets and the artists,

And those that give us

The music and the lyrics

In our favourite songs,

These are the people

Who seem to have been born

For such a time as this.

I went to a talk about Queen Esther in the Old Testament a couple of years ago and once again it was something that really stuck with me. The lady giving the talk spoke about the famous phrase that is often quoted from this book, for you were born for such a time as these.

She spoke of how it didn’t mean this was a good time for Esther, but that she could do something for her people and she was the only person who could do it. She was quite literally born for the moment.

It feels like it rings true now. Some of the people who don’t make heaps of money and can be looked down on a bit sometimes, these are the people who are rising to the top and helping society in unprecedented times.

All of the arty people are really useful now because people are scared and lonely and it is poetry, books, movies and music that are going to help them through.

These people aren’t born for this moment to profiteer from it, they are born for this moment so that they can reassure people, they can entertain them and make them feel human again.

So, if you are an artist of any kind, think how you can use your skills in these strange days ahead. You are among the people who will record what has happened and keep the spirits up of all the people out there.

Stay safe and look after each other,

Much Love,

Rachel xx

the shock of the fall

The shock of the fall

Is much worse than the impact.

Bones shattering on cold concrete

Once sounded enough

To grind teeth in disgust.

Now we almost look forward,

To that sudden jar of stars.

We think it will be sweet release

From this endless downward rush.

I remember when I was in Year 11 which was way back in the Y2K, we read an extract in our English class. It was about an old man who just wanted to go out for a walk in a society where everyone was ordered to stay inside.

I think the fact that I love walking was the reason that this piece of writing stuck with me over all these years. It scared me that there could ever come a time when police would make us return to our homes. I thought for almost twenty years that it was too ridiculous to ever really happen. And then the year 2020 happened.

But it’s the shock of it actually happening that is the hardest thing to deal with. That piece of writing obviously had an effect on me because I remember it from 20 years ago. But as time has marched on, travel has become more common and it just seemed ridiculous that I would see such a thing in my life time.

This has come so quickly, and so ‘out of the blue’ that it’s taken me by surprise and made me feel really anxious. I am quite comfortable living in my flat with food and electricity so it’s no real hardship just yet. It’s the free falling and seeing how quickly things are changing that have done me the most damage.

If you are like me, and thrive on routine, I’m sure that you are also suffering. Just stay calm and remember that in this very moment you are fine. You are alive and hopefully well. We have no real control over what is happening so we just have to go with it. The panic comes in the struggle against the fall.

Something beautiful has to come out of the train wreck that we are witnessing at the moment. We need to all love each other and be responsible and we will get to the other side.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the last day of school

Mums who gossip crowd the gates

As kids and teachers say goodbye.

The virus means the school will close

And kids are on a sugary high.

*

Mrs Jones has cleared her desk

Not knowing when she will return.

She sheds a tear for all the things

She won’t be able to help them learn.

*

“Goodbye class, I’ll miss you all,”

She said with such a wobbly voice.

She let them out and watch them run,

Her favourite class of girls and boys.

I thought I’d do a fun one today because I love rhyming poetry, especially stuff that is written for children. I have such fond memories of reading Heard It In The Playground by Allan Ahlberg over and over again.

We also need to remember that there are so many parents who will be looking after their children now that schools are closing. It’s extremely stressful for them as they are already being stretched financially.

I just wanted to give a huge shout out to all the mums and dads who are going to be doing their best over the next few weeks to months. I have a fourteen year old so he can look after himself, but I am a single parent with not much of a support network around me, so I know what you’re all going through.

You are all amazing and you’ve got this!!!!

Much Love,

Rachel xx

An ode to the shelf stacker

Yesterday I felt embarrassed

To tell the world what job I did.

I dreaded when they asked

I hated puckered, disappointed faces

When I said that I stacked shelves.

*

Today I’m feeling rather proud.

Today I am a cog, an important one

That helps the country lurch along

In desperate and uncertain times.

*

Those people who were so judgemental,

Now they breathe a sigh of beautiful relief

When they see the store is open,

When they see that they can buy

The things they need to stay alive.

*

So never twist your face in mock disgust

When a person does their best.

There may just come a dark and deadly day

When you’re the one with little use

And the lowly stacker of the shelves

Becomes the hero of the day.

My name is Rachel and I work in a petrol station. I was an A grade student at school and I have a handful of degrees but that doesn’t seem to have helped me in my career.

And I spent a long time feeling really embarrassed that I was only doing a job that I could have done without any qualifications. I had the look of scorn from old school friends whenever they came into the store and it really did dent my confidence.

But it sometimes takes a huge crisis to realise that you’re not as useless as you thought you were. All of a sudden, the person working as a Marketing Director isn’t really needed. When everyone is scrabbling for food and work and hoping to stay alive, status will do very little for you.

The sad thing is that it shouldn’t have taken the virus for me to realise my worth. I am in work and contributing to society. I pay taxes and National Insurance. I am a single mother and bringing up my son is an important job in itself.

So what if I stack shelves for a living. And so what if you’re not proud of where you are in life as far as your career is concerned. Just make sure that you are being a nice person and serving the world as best you can.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i’m evil, right?

There are some dark and dusty corners

In the recess of my brain.

It is a room where devils live,

Whispering fatal words,

“You’re evil and you know”.

But devils can be trained and tamed

Like climbing plants that overrun.

Give some care and perfect love

And angel wings will always sprout.

So I went to have an assessment with our local mental health team today. I wasn’t holding out much hope for any help because I’ve already been told I have an anxiety disorder. As far as I was concerned, they had given me medication and a course in CBT and then I just had to manage it.

However, as the lady went through the questions she said that it was a possibility that I had Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. She wasn’t a doctor so she couldn’t diagnose, but she said that it was a real possibility.

Now, I don’t really like labels but this one helped me ‘get over’ something that was really quite frightening for me at the time. I was struggling at work about three years ago and I was offered CBT for depression and anxiety.

Long story short, the CBT made everything worse to the point where I ended up with psychotic symptoms. I went through a long period where I really believed I was evil. Even recently, I have thought about that time and felt like it all happened because I’m a bad person. I have felt like the therapist was trying to help me and my evilness was what stood in the way of success.

I got a bit tearful today when the lady told me that people who have EUPD can have trouble with CBT because it makes them aware of all their faults but then doesn’t give them any coping skills to fall back on. It was a huge fucking relief.

So, I just wanted to write this to get it off my chest and to get it into my own head that I’m not evil. I tried one type of therapy that really didn’t work well and that doesn’t make me a bad person. We all have a little devil running around in our heads and we are all capable of training him. I just need to try something different.

I repeat, I am not evil.

Much Love

Rachel xx