i’ve been on wordpress for a whole year

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I just got a little notification from WordPress to say that it is one year since I set up this blog. I can’t believe that a whole year has passed and how much has changed.

I thought that this blog was going to be a bit of a self help manual, but then I realised that I don’t know how to look after myself, so I couldn’t really expect people to listen to my advice.

Slowly, it was poetry and words that came to the forefront and now I just like to write what is on my heart that day. There is always something that is there and I hope that it resonates with somebody who reads it.

I think that is the important thing about writing; you don’t need to be hugely successful, you just need to touch the heart of one person. We are all so wrapped up in trying to be rich and famous and I think that we should stop chasing that. It’s not good for our mental health and it just eats us up inside.

It’s far better to just write for fun and really value the knowledge that you have made a difference in someone’s day. I hope that I’ve given you something worthwhile to think about at some point over my year and I hope that I can continue to do so.

Much Love

Rachel xx

on not being the best at taking criticism

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The sting of tears prickle at eyes

As words hit home,

That I’m not the best,

I’m not the most perfect.

There’s still so much work to be done

And it hurts like hell

To hear critical words

That spear through my flesh

Regardless of the fact

That they were said with love.

I’ve always known that I’m pretty bad at taking criticism. I don’t mean that I kick off and get defensive; I actually mean that I take it to heart and then go and cry in the toilets.

I’ve realised after a lot of therapy that it could stem from my childhood. If I wasn’t perfect my mum would literally withhold her love from me for weeks at a time. I knew that if I made a mistake I was unlovable.

That’s all great that I understand that now, but it is still really hard to get past the pain that I feel when I receive criticism. I’m in my thirties and I didn’t do anything about my emotional issues until very recently so that’s a lot of time to form solid habits. Undoing that will take years.

And being a student teacher means that I will be receiving a lot of criticism over the next year, so I really have to develop a thick skin, and quick!

Today I was told that I ploughed on with my teaching despite the fact that some kids were misbehaving. In truth, I didn’t even notice them, I was so busy running through all of the things I need to remember while teaching.

But I felt that familiar pang of hurt when I was told that I had done ‘bad’. I gave myself a good talking to so that I didn’t have to go and cry in the toilets, but the hurt was still there.

I’m making it though. I’m not panicking. I’m not getting chest pains. I know I can do this. And I’m super proud of myself for getting to this point. I hope that you are fighting your way through negative comments too, and using them for good to improve yourself.

Much Love

Rachel xx

having a good clear out

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The unbearable lightness

Of casting aside

The heaviest of burdens

Wrapped in a T shirt

That was misunderstood;

That is the most lovely

Of feelings in life.

I’m really craving a car boot sale at the moment. I don’t know if they exist outside of the UK, but I guess they’re similar to a garage sale. There are just lots of little sales all taking place in one big field.

They are the perfect way to make a few pennies and get rid of all the stuff that you haven’t even touched in over a year. And I live in a one bedroom flat so keeping my belongings to a minimum is really important.

However, I’m also really aware of the mental health benefits of having a good clear out and I was painfully reminded of this as I was sorting through some of my old clothes not so long ago.

I happened to stumble across a vest in the bottom of a drawer. I hadn’t even seen it for years but as soon as I pulled it out into the light, I was reminded of a very dark time in my life.

I wore this vest to the Inclusion center when I got sober. Stepping inside that building was probably the bravest thing I’ve ever done and I vividly remember seeing my reflection in the great glass windows as I pulled open the door.

It is like the pattern of that vest is burnt into my memory and just pulling it out took me right back. And it made me realise how important it is to shed some of these memories. They are not helpful and getting rid can feel like something of a rebirth.

I’m happy that I stepped into that building and started that journey but it feels like that was the death of the old me that needed to drink in order to live.

I took that vest to the local charity shop as I don’t need that negative energy clogging up my wardrobe while I wait for car boot sales to reopen. I think sometimes we all need a little clear out as some of those memories are so heavy that they are painful to carry through life.

I wish you a week of lightness and light.

Much Love

Rachel xx

on meeting the next vip in your life

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We met in a flurry of beer

And sweaty dance floor moves

Stepping out for just a moment

Taking air and there you were

A stranger then to me.

How could I know that you would be

The person you became to me?

I was reading a book today and a sentence popped out at me. It was something about not knowing who is going to end up being the next VIP in your life. It really stuck with me because I always spend time thinking about the first time I’ve meant important people in my life.

For instance, my child’s father. I met him on a night out in Durban in a club called Bonkers, of all places. I was backpacking and the last thing I was on the lookout for was a husband.

I slipped out of the club because it was so full of people and the heat was unbearable. This South African guy followed me out and we got talking. He said he would show me around the city the next day and he stood by his word.

We spent the next week together and then he persuaded me to stay. I ended up staying in the country for about fifteen months when I had only planned on six weeks.

But looking back at that night, I had no idea the journey that we would go on. It was just chance that we met and yet he still continues to shape my life despite the fact that we now live on separate continents.

I sometimes wonder how long I’ll know somebody when I first meet them. Will they become a close friend or a partner? I just find it bizarre when something so random can bend and shape your life beyond recognition.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i have too many plates spinning

Running back and forth along the line

Trying hard to keep them spinning on their poles.

They’re made of finest china bone

And if I drop a plate or two

The cost will be so dear to me

As shards will skitter over floors

Too small to ever fix together,

Too costly to replace anew.

When we had our first induction day back in July, the course leader told us that we will have to keep lots of plates spinning during this year, and it will sometimes feel like they are too many going at one time. I rolled my eyes at the cliche.

But now, just two weeks into term, I’m starting to understand what she meant. I seem to have homework coming from every angle and I’m never sure which to tackle first.

And I’m the kind of person that freezes when they’re overwhelmed, so I sometimes find myself just sitting on the sofa, staring at the wall and doing nothing.

This year is definitely going to test every weakness in my brain, but I’m really learning to keep calm, do my best, and if I get told off for doing really badly in one area, at least I know where I can concentrate my energy.

I will keep those plates spinning, and actually, if I do drop one it is possible to glue it back together. It might not look as good as it did but if I use a good enough glue I may even be stronger than it originally was.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the boy who loved his teacher

She taught him shards of Romeo

And Juliet in lover’s tongue

He watched her as she paced her stage

Before the class with pen in hand

Reaming out the lines as one.

Her summer dress just skimmed her thighs

And auburn hair was piled up high

With sunshine flitting through the blinds

And picking out those golden strands.

He sat and watched her pour out lines,

Wishing he could read with her

And thanking Shakespeare for his words,

For scrawling them across a page

That stood the test of wretched time

And made their way to days so filled

With iPad screens and mobile phones

And Miss Savoy, in Form 7B

The woman that he knew would stay

Forever lodged inside his mind

As perfect love, his untouched Juliet.

the inevitable crash after being way too busy

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My brain is like a battery

The power fizzing and spluttering

Until the very end.

I can charge it up again

I just need a day or so

To plug back in

And find my way back to an equilibrium.

I have had two full on weeks with absolutely zero rest. Not only have I had two weeks being a student teacher and finding my way around a new school, I also ran eighty miles over the middle weekend which cost me an entire night of sleep.

That’s all fine and good, but the phrase ‘burning the candle at both ends’ was coined for a reason. It’s because, as humans, if we hurtle through a couple of weeks at that kind of pace, something is going to give.

Now, this would have ended in disaster a couple of years ago but, again, I have learned so much in recovery, and I now have all of the tools to stop that from happening.

However, I did get to about lunch time today and I realised just how flat I was feeling. I felt a bit tearful and really snappy with both Noah and the cat!

This afternoon I did my shopping and then I have just sat watching Netflix and making my crochet blanket. I haven’t done any of my teacher training work as that can just wait. I’m looking after my brain and I’m not going to feel ashamed about it.

Look after your brain too and have a chilled out Saturday in front of the TV. You have my permission……

Much Love

Rachel xx

the difference a week can make


They always said compare.

Don’t compare the good to bad or bad to good,

Just view the journey as a whole.

And if you’re just a step along

You’re doing quite alright.

Last week was my first full week in a school as a student teacher, and I didn’t hate it but I was asking myself some serious questions about whether I was really a suitable fit.

But this week, just seven days on, I feel so much better. I’ve started to plan little activities and to deliver them, and to feel calm while I do it. Last week I almost cried after I attempted to teach a mini lesson.

So the difference is marked. And that is great. Because life is all about that journey.

I know that this journey is going to be long and bumpy and I’ll have terrible lessons when I’m five years in, but I also know that if I work hard I’ll continue to move forward and improve.

In a recovery meeting I was once told that if I was having a bad time, I should look back two months ago and see if I’m in a better place than I was then. If the answer is yes, then one bad moment can be brushed off far more easily.

I look back to four years ago and I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do what I’m doing now and all that it took was to follow instructions and to be as kind as I can.

I’ve probably done some pretty terrible things to people in four years, but I try my best and I’m starting to reap the rewards.

If you are having a bad day look back a few months and see if you’re in a better place now? If not, change your ways and keep trudging on in a forward direction.

Much Love

Rachel xx

fucking computers

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My heart quite literally

Hammers on the rib cage walls

As pressure rises in my veins

And plastic splinters slide down walls.

The crash was satisfying in its crunch

But knowing what it’s cost me to

Replace is hurting hard.

I wish I’d kept my cool.

Can you tell I’m proper fucked off with IT issues at the moment? My laptop is on the blink (I’m assured that it’s just a battery thing, but then it could be planning to jet off to Mars for all I know!) and I’m literally pulling my hair out with frustration.

I am the most anti technology person there is. I have just about managed to figure out a WordPress site and even that has been a push at times. I can’t make my site do all kinds of flashy things because I’m just so crap with the technology.

I wish that we could go back to a time when there were no smart phones and social media. The internet has its uses but I could do away with about 95% of it. I’d quite like to reintroduce phone boxes and only allow people to send handwritten notes instead of emails.

I can assure you that I haven’t actually thrown my laptop at a wall but if it continues to behave this badly then I may well act on my threats.

Somebody please take me back to the 90’s when everything was simple and it was easy to shut off!

Much Love

Rachel xx

the power of reflection

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A mirror shows a thousand things

Both good and bad, dark and light,

But what you do with what you see,

That’s the key

To finding your way home.

I had another little go at teaching today and the difference between this time and last time was immense. And it wasn’t because I’d suddenly become a fantastic teacher, it was because I listened to my mentors and I took some time to reflect on my first performance properly.

I always thought that reflection was a bit of a buzz word and always used it as a tick box exercise. But this time around I did look at all of the things that made me want to curl up and die, and it worked!

I think that because this teacher training course costs £9,000 I’m more inclined to try anything and everything that is suggested, but I surprised myself with my success today.

As I’ve written before, a lot of my problems in life are all around a lack of confidence. I saw the bored faces of all those teenagers and just thought that they hated me. With that thought lodged firmly in my mind, I felt like I was slowly drowning without any flotation device to grab hold of.

But with a bit of reflection I realised that every teacher, good or bad, gets that bored look from Year 11’s. And I realised that I couldn’t remember everything I wanted to say and started drifting. So I had a notebook open with bullet points to prompt me.

In short, I could iron out the problems with just a little bit of sane and rational thinking. I didn’t let my brain run with the whole ‘they all hate me’ story, which is such a huge step for me.

So, I didn’t really have anything profound to say today because I’m sure that most people know to do this anyway. But for me, I just didn’t know how to fix my problems. And I’m chuffed to bits with myself for making this step in the right direction.

I hope that you are all striding in the right direction too. It’s quite an exhilarating feeling.

Much Love

Rachel xx