today i boiled 62 kettles and now i feel like a monster

a pot on a portable gas burner stove
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Attenborough’s warned us, time and time again,

About the ice caps melting into seas

And animals are vanishing with terrifying ease.

But am I doing anything to help?

Or am I just a drain on oil and air?

Or am I just too worried for

A future I can’t help or change?

I was told the other day that Googling one question wakes up so many servers around the world that I am effectively using the same amount of energy that I would use if I were to boil six kettles. I don’t know how true that is, but it rings true and it’s terrified me.

I’m one of those worriers that tries to ride her bike when she can, I turn off the heating in the afternoon and I turn off lights when I leave the room. It’s all very little things but it’s because I really do care about what state the planet will be in when I hand it over to the next generation.

I am also a worrier in the very worst sense. I worry that the NHS is going to collapse, so I try not to go to the doctor. I worry that my boss doesn’t like me so I won’t complain about the shift I have been given. I worry that I’ll get arrested if a policeman looks into my eyes and sees how horrible I am, so I keep my eyes down.

It’s all very paranoid behaviour, but I’ve lived like this for so long that it’s quite hard to stop it. And now, thanks to the numpty that told me that stupid fact, I’m feeling too scared to Google the symptoms that I’m too scared to go to the doctor about.

Anyone else a chronic worrier? Sorry if I’ve now made you panic about your internet use. I guess we’re all going to have to cycle to the library so that we can use those things called books.

Much Love

Rachel xx

when friends just seem to fall away

instant photo of three women drinking
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They’re always still there,

Lurking away in shadowy coves,

Appearing in photos

With arms flung round shoulders,

Smiles all abound.

And you wonder how so

You weren’t invited,

Do they hate you so much?

I have friends from school that I don’t speak to anymore. Not out of choice. I would love to hang out with them and be included in those smiling photos on Facebook. I’d have loved to have been a bridesmaid at their weddings and been at the first birthday parties of their children.

But I kind of screwed up and so I don’t see them anymore. They wouldn’t want to hang out with the girl who used to get so drunk she’d black out. And it doesn’t matter that I’ve sorted myself out. The damage has already been done.

For a long time I blamed them and thought they were horrible for not letting me join in on their fun. But I’ve learned that it is the price that I’ve paid for my drinking. I’ve learned that I have to take responsibility for the things that I have done.

Every so often I see a photo pop up and I wish things could be different. I miss them, but now I don’t hate them. I wish them well and I live the life that I have been given now.

I hope that you don’t have to feel left out at any point, but I know that it is part of being a human. We’ll all be OK, it just really hurts sometimes.

Much Love

Rachel xx

when someone says something nice

I remember when I was in Year 9, so I was probably about fourteen, and this teacher asked me to write a story. I poured my heart and soul into it and handed it in, hoping that the teacher would love it as much as I did.

Even then, my writing was like a child of mine that I sent out into the world. Any judgement that came back negative was like a stake through the heart.

But this one time, the work was handed back and I flipped to the final page and saw that the teacher had written just one word. There was a red tick and the word ‘remarkable’ right there next to it.

I recall sitting there in stunned silence. A teacher who had a degree and had read far more than I could ever dream of reading, had looked at my work and written such an amazing word.

I’ll never forget that ‘remarkable’ that was scrawled across the bottom of my page. Whenever, I am doubting my ability, I do often think back to that day and remember that somebody once saw the very best in me; so the very best is there.

I feel that as a teacher in waiting, I have such an important job, making sure that my students are encouraged in the same way that teacher encouraged me. Of course, I don’t want to lie and tell them they’re amazing when they need to improve, but I have a duty to help them believe in themsleves.

It’s amazing what one nice word can do. Even in the darkest of times, these memories can be dug out and held up to whatever light is available. Just make sure that you have some kind words to say each day. Because there might be a girl that remembers it twenty years later…..

Much Love

Rachel xx

anyone else just freeze up?

When Life with the dreadful capital L

Heaps on the careful demands of the day

I don’t run into action with rifles and bombs,

I just stand in the trenches, waiting for death,

My heart in my mouth as I watch people burn,

In glory or pain, I’m never quite sure.

All that I know with the heaviest of hearts

Is I’ll never be seeing them ever again

Unless it’s on the front of a newspaper page.

I believe that life is made up of so many opportunities, and I also believe that I have probably let so many slip through my fingers. Watching Revolutionary Road last night, I heard one of the characters say that we have five or six of these life changing opportunities and most of us let them go and then wonder why we’re sitting in a life that we hate when we’re old and ready for the grave.

I can probably agree with a lot of that, but I also know that when I’m overwhelmed, I have a tendency to just freeze and I wonder how many opportunities I have lost through that? I certainly know that I’ve got myself into trouble with my freezing before.

At the moment, I have this essay and then a lot of lesson planning on my plate. It’s not too much for me to cope with but my head keeps telling me that it is and so I find myself sitting on the sofa, just staring at the wall. I’m not even doing something that I enjoy instead; I’m just wasting the time away.

Meanwhile, I feel like the rest of my cohort are running over the top and into the fire. Of course, they may be running away from safety, but surely it’s worth running to see where I end up? There may well be something amazing on the other side of that wall of fire, and I’ve just been too scared to run through and have a look.

I’ve decided that if I freeze, from now on, I’ll just start writing. So this might be a load of drivel, but at least it’s got me up and doing something. I just need to make the move so that I’m actually doing the thing I’m supposed to be doing!

Much Love,

Rachel xx

roast chicken on revolutionary road

chicken cooked cuisine cutlery
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She stands in 50’s clothes

With one roast chicken, whole,

Balanced in her hands,

Her head just tilted to one side,

Questioning the look I have

Plastered on my face.

It’s far from natural, this change in mood,

From dark and cloudy

To a perfect housewife with

A beaming perma-smile.

I just watched Revolutionary Road with Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio. There was a scene in it where they have had a massive fight and the two of them are in a huge emotional mess. But when the morning comes, Leo’s character comes downstairs and she just asks him how he wants his eggs for breakfast.

She is perfectly made up and calm and the model 1950’s housewife. It’s really quite creepy, but I think that it felt more so, for me, because it reminded me so much of my mother.

Whenever she fell out with one of us she would disappear or not talk to us for weeks and then one day we would come down to breakfast and everything would be back to normal. She wouldn’t talk about what had been wrong and we were expected to just play along.

Normally I was too frightened to ask what had happened, so I would just not talk about it either. It was the most unhealthy way to deal with problems, but I went along with it out of fear.

Later in life, when I finally went to therapy I would speak about those moments and I would refer to them as ‘roast chicken moments’. They were the moments when mum would return to being a Stepford wife and we’d just pretend that it was fine.

Watching the film reminded me of this and it brought me chills. It was made worse because I think we’re meant to think that it’s unnatural and yet I felt like that kind of behaviour was normal until I was well into my thirties.

It got even worse because *spoiler alert* she ends up killing herself and that was always what I was terrified of when my mum would disappear. I was so worried that she would die and everyone at the funeral would tell me how bad I was because my mother had killed herself because of me.

Now that’s so dark, I think I’d better leave it there. I suppose I should be thankful that I at least now know that it’s definitely not normal!

Much Love

Rachel xx

when you realise you’re not alone

people holding their phones
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Sitting in boxes, in absent quiet,

Waiting for time to slip away,

We spark up nothing, and panic and fret.

We think we’re alone, but there are others out there,

In their own little boxes, filling with stress.

We are so far from lonely, if only we reach

Hands out to others and admit to our pain.

I often sit in my little flat where I know I’m comfortable and safe. But I’m also isolated and that’s not always a good thing. Because it gives me a chance to sit and fret about everything that I could possibly be doing wrong.

I’ve been doing that over the past few days; thinking I’m an awful parent and daughter and student and employee. And that’s all because I’m struggling a bit with this essay.

So I had a quick look at my Whatsapp group and read what everyone else was saying about their essays. I half expected to see that they had all finished and had found it easy. But it was quite the opposite.

Most of them sound as though they are struggling more than I am.

If I had just reached out of my little box a little earlier, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble and anxiety.

I am an introvert, through and through so I feel better when I’m on my own, but this is yet another reminder that I need to reach out and connect. Connection is what humans need, and I must remember that I am not exempt from that.

Keep safe and make sure that you reach out, even if you find it difficult. Knowing that others are struggling actually helps in some perverse kind of way. So do it.

Much Love

Rachel xx

when you feel like a failure but your hands are tied

Us on a slightly better day at a theme park

The cable ties are much too tight,

The ones that bind my wrists as one

And force my frame to stoop and frown.

I want to stay upbeat and high

But circumstance will always play

A role in how I feel about my life.

So, I’m going to bang on about my dental problems again, but I promise that there is a moral behind this story! The pain has been getting worse and worse and the temporary filling that the dentist out in has fallen out so I’m at risk of getting another infection if I don’t get it seen to.

I phoned them this morning and they wanted me to wait to see the specialist in four months! I did a bit of begging and I eventually got an appointment tomorrow. That’s great, but it’s half term and I’d booked tickets to take Noah to the theme park.

We are theme park aficionados and all of the scare mazes are set up at the moment so Noah was super excited about going. However, with the COVID restrictions on numbers, we had to book our places…..and now there are no more spaces available.

It’s another case of mother’s guilt which I’m sure so many people suffer from. My hands are tied as my tooth is killing me, but I also don’t want to let the offspring down. And because this is me that we’re talking about, I really do take it out on myself. I can easily go down that rabbit hole where it is all my fault and I’m just an evil person.

I must say that I am so lucky to have the son I do as I told him what had happened and rather than throw a hissy fit, he just shrugged it off and said that it’s best I get my tooth looked after. I sometimes wonder what I have done to deserve a human that is so nice.

Really, I just need to man the fuck up and realise that life happens and we all face dilemmas that can be uncomfortable to deal with. But, that won’t stop me chewing over it for the rest of tonight and unfortunately I’m not in a position where I can indulge in a Gin and Tonic.

Stay safe folks,

Rachel xx

essay writing…..i’m half way there

It’s a mountain, you know,

Getting to the end of this road,

It stretches up, and when I think I’m there,

I raise my eyes and see how far there is to go

And I’m never sure that it’ll ever end.

I know it will,

It just feels that way.

Ugh, I’m writing my first academic essay in about a decade and I feel like my eyes are bleeding. I’m halfway and this has been a painful experience already. I can only imagine how terrible the second half will be.

I’ve done quite a few epic endurance events and I’m going to have to attack this in much the same way. It’s going to be a case of getting my head down and ignoring the pain. Just motor on; it doesn’t matter that you have stress fractures in your legs and you still have twenty miles to go. You just do it.

I just hope that I’m a little more disciplined than I was in my last 100 mile event as I bonked out at 80 miles. That is not an option this week. No bonking!

Much Love

Rachel xx

if you go down to the woods today

After just posting that I rarely have my camera on me I went out for a walk with my phone and made a special effort to take so photos.

We have a beautiful forest not far from us, where we often go for a walk. At this time of year it is always at its most beautiful, with the leaves turning all shades of yellow and gold.

It only holds its colour for about two weeks and then the leaves are blown away. The only other time in the year that the forest is quite so magical is when the sun comes out in the spring and we get a carpet of bluebells.

I’m so thankful that I have such perfect scenery around me and places that I can escape to when I’m struggling with life. The fresh air and the birdsong is enough to lift anyone’s spirits.

i have no photos

three women wearing high heels
Photo by Inga Seliverstova on Pexels.com

I have no Polaroids tucked into boxes,

Pushed into wardrobes or under a bed.

I have no pictures to touch with fingers,

Pointing out memories of summers long gone.

It felt normal back then,

To not have a camera, locked in my hands,

But now I look back at the hazy images

Crowding the corners of an aging mind

And wonder what’s lost through ravages of time.

When I went travelling around South Africa at the beginning of the noughties, I went armed with a disposable camera that eventually got lost, left behind in some awful hostel in the arse end of nowhere.

I sometimes wonder what was on that film and what memories I have lost. There were probably things on there that I have completely forgotten about (and that I was probably a bit too drunk to remember anyway)!

However, those memories aren’t the only ones that have been lost. I’m notoriously bad for not having my phone on me, so I rarely have a camera either. It means that I often live in the moment, but it also means that I don’t capture that moment to look back on years later.

I sometimes feel really sad that I can’t find a single photo of the man I married in South Africa. There are no pictures of our wedding day or the flat that we shared in Durban. And that makes me really sad now.

I also don’t have any photos of when I was pregnant. None of those images of me lovingly holding my bump exist. I sometimes wish that I was famous and got papped so that I had some more photos of myself to look back on, worrying that I’ll become an old lady and have no photos of myself as a young person to look back on.

I’m going to make more of an effort to take photos and films because I love photographs so much. I’ll even make beautiful albums that can be passed down the generations. Or maybe I’ll just keep living my life…..

Much Love

Rachel xx