what a wimp

purple and green paper butterflies
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So free of courage

Butterflies will keep from

The one thing I am meant to do,

The sickly feeling

Turning stomachs

Gets me every time.

I was supposed to tell my boss that I got the job today… and I wimped out. Which is typical Rachel behaviour, and makes me realise what a flake I can sometimes be. There are occasions where many seven year olds would have more courage than I can muster.

I spoke to Noah about it when I got home and it made me realise that drinking has a lot to do with this. I spent fifteen years masking my feelings with booze and now, when those feelings become too strong, I find it really hard to cope.

Whenever I had a difficult email to send, or I had to listen to my voicemails, or open a brown envelope, I could have a couple of vodkas and I would just about have the confidence to do what I needed to do.

Now, it physically hurts me to do these things with no crutch. But this is all a part of recovery and I will do it and I will learn to become a fully functioning adult.

For now, I’m just a bit of a melt.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i froze up again

white feathers illustration
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Sitting on a sagging sofa,

My body just as deflated, staring

At the blank TV screen

Wishing it could give me answers

To all these questions swirling

Round my head, my arms, my legs

And freezing joints to solid stone.

I know I’ve written about my tendency to freeze before, but it’s been a problem again this weekend and I feel that writing about it is helpful to me, and hopefully to others – because knowing that you are not alone is so important.

I have so many big decisions to make if I get this job on Tuesday and rather than getting on with everything that needs to be done, I have found myself sitting on my sofa, not even watching the telly. I have literally just been staring at the blank screen and playing every possible outcome in my mind.

Some people run and some people fight, but I fall into the freeze category and I just do nothing. It is a horrible feeling to know that you have so much to do and yet you feel like you can barely move.

And it can be quite ‘dangerous’ to try and do things when I’m in this state. I have missed turn offs and gotten lost while driving because I’ve zoned out and I sometimes struggle to follow what people are saying to me as my mind is going so quickly.

I’m calming myself down as best I can, but I just have to accept that whatever happens this week, it’s going to be a bit of an uncomfortable one. Wish me luck.

Much Love

Rachel xx

criticism is hard to give

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You know your words are barbed with poison,

Ready to explode, a hot grenade,

Ripping through the gentle souls

And yet you’re forced to utter them,

Cringing, crying, craving some release

And all the while we’re realising that

It must be hard to dish that out from day to day.

As a first year teacher, I am at the bottom of the pecking order, so I tend to just go into work, keep my head down and then go home when the day is done. But yesterday, I had to use my words and I found it really difficult.

We had a department meeting and the senior member of staff who was running the meeting was trying to get all of us to practice ‘radical candour’. I had never heard of this term before, but lots of leaders try to use it to give criticism, but deliver it woth love.

Being always on the bottom rung, I realise that I don’t have much confidence in myself, so the idea of giving criticism to people above me was terrifying.

At the end of the session we had to write on a post it, what we want management to stop that could make our life easier. It was anonymous, but the ideas were read out to the group.

I think that it was writing the words ‘I want you to stop’ that was the most difficult thing because that involves creating boundaries and I am so bad at that. So, telling my boss what they should not do in order to make me enjoy my job more felt so uncomfortable I wanted to be sick.

It was an interesting exercise and if you are in a leadership role, I really advise that you give that kind of thing a go, because I think everyone walked out feeling a bit lighter.

I just have to deal with my guilt now, because every time I look at my boss I can’t help but think that I might have hurt her yesterday…

Much Love

Rachel xx

the list of things i wanted to achieve when i was seven

typewriter
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To be a scientist and to work in a zoo,

To make it to the Olympics as a pole vaulter

And to maybe end up in space

Or in the middle of the Atlantic

In a rowing boat, dreaming of nights

On my luxury yacht, with my movie star man,

Drinking bottle of Moet

And laughing at how lucky I am.

Like a lot of people, I had big dreams when I was seven and I had a checklist of things that I wanted to achieve. I actually wrote them down and put them in a little purse and I would often look at them and sometimes add so I still remember a lot of what was in the list.

The funny thing is that I have achieved nearly all of the big things but not in the way I expected. And it makes me think that actually the universe or God or whatever you believe is controlling things, has quite a sense of humour.

I wanted to swim the channel and hold a world record and I did that in my own right. But I also said that I wanted to have something I’d written printed in a national newspaper. I ended up working for a company that sold living aids for old people and I wrote the copy for the adverts. I remember buying the paper and just staring at the advert, knowing I had written those words. Alas, I never got my own opinion column, but there is still time.

I also promised myself I would go to the Olympics, but I didn’t specify that I wanted to compete. I was lucky enough to get a ticket to see the swimming when we hosted the Olympics in London – a once in a lifetime opportunity, if ever there was one.

I’m sure we all have those childhood dreams that we still hang onto and I’d love to hear what other people have actually carried out. I wonder if anyone reading this has actually made it to space yet?

Much Love

Rachel xx

the audition that brings chills

group of people raise their hands on stadium
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She steps out on the stage

Looking sheepish, in jeans

And a crazy tie dye shirt,

They all think she will be

A little non-descript, a bore

And then the music starts,

The audience all hold her their breath

And out comes magic, bringing chills

Until the final note and then,

They roar, on their feet,

Something otherworldly happened here.

There are talent contests the world over and everybody loves them, if only to vegetate in front of on a Saturday night when you don’t have the energy to turn the channel over.

But on nearly every episode of those programmes, there is always one contestant who always manages to blow away the whole audience and probably everyone else watching at home.

For me it is always a singer, just because you can never tell what voice is going to come out of any given body. On BGT tonight, there was a nine year old who sang like she was thirty and when she hit that high note you could feel the goosebumps coming up on your arms.

I’m not even one who gets all that sentimental over those programmes because I think that they are full of sob stories that just aim to play with the emotions of people who have had too many pinots on a Saturday night. But secretly, deep down, I really love that moment when the whole audience stands up as one. It’s magical.

Much Love

Rachel xx

at the hands of the mean girls

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They stand at the edge of the field

Sniggering sharply, behind hiding hands,

Not willing to shout, but too cool to cheer.

One day they’ll grow, and know how it feels

To suffer their dagger and barbed little words.

For now I will dance to the beat of my drum,

No letting girls in their sour teenage years

Pull me to pieces in the prime of my life.

So, during my first year of teaching I have found that I really struggle with older students (those of around fourteen to fifteen). It’s surprised me that I gel with the younger ones, while I tend to bring out the worst in a Year 10.

There was one group of girls that particularly upset me early on, and the class was taken off me because they were really being nasty. However, I still have to see these girls around school so I’ve really had to grow a slightly thicker skin for when I pass them in corridors and they give me withering looks.

Today, I took part in the school triathlon, and I’m not exactly a sprinter so I was bringing up the back of the pack during the run. It was done at lunchtime and we ran straight through the middle of the school grounds so that we could have a marathon vibe as we competed.

Of course, these girls were at the side of the route and I saw them laughing at me as I passed. But you know what? I kept on running and waving at all the students who were cheering me on.

I know that 15 is a tough age and I really hope that in a couple of years they will look back at their Mean Girls ways and cringe a little bit. I just hope that my little Year 7s stay nice and I never have to feel embarrassed running past them.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the scary circle of life

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It comes in little waves,

Lapping at the shore,

The first time they all started having sex,

The wedding invites, then the babies too,

The birthday parties celebrating 30, 40,

On and on it goes until

The posts all change to something dark,

The ‘she will be sorely missed’ appears

And people clothed in black.

It comes to all of us, eventually

But always faster than we thought.

I saw another Facebook post announcing that someone about my age died yesterday. I wasn’t close to her so it’s not that I’m feeling immense sadness, but the shock is still there.

We used to swim together when I was a teenager so we did spend hours in the pool every week, and everyone in the squad felt a little bit like family. And the fact that she was so young; it all combines to create a very sick feeling in my stomach.

It has also just made me think that life is rolling on so quickly and that is frightening to all humans. There was a time when everyone was excited about having sex for the first time, then there was a flurry of invites to weddings and baby showers. Now we are reaching our forties we are having lots of big birthday parties.

I’m scared that more and more people will start to disappear now. Noah is going through the teen years and has all that love and excitement to come. But hopefully I’ve still got a few more years left in the tank.

Much Love

Rachel xx

does it make me really shitty?

black crt tv
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If I curl up on the sofa

With the curtains closed,

Watching videos about books

And pretending there’s no life

Outside these few square metres,

Does that make me shitty,

A person to be hated

Or at least scorned today?

I have had a rule since I started my teacher training and then my ECT years, and that is to make it into work, no matter what. There will be exceptions made if I’m vomiting or need to spend a lot of time in a bathroom, but I am absolutely not allowed to skip a day because I feel anxious.

I have had so much time off over the last ten years because of anxiety and depression, just because life builds up and I’ve not had the skills to deal with it. I still struggle, but now that I have a job where people really depend on me, I make sure that other areas of my life will suffer before work does.

The rule is that every social situation will go out of the window before I need to take time off, and that has worked for two years now – and I’m super proud of myself for managing that.

However, that has meant that I’ve regularly let people down when I’ve been invited places and it really pains me to think that other people might hate me for my flakiness.

I can’t even begin to tell you how crushing the weight is as social situations creep nearer and how shitty I feel when I inevitably end up sending a hurried last minute text to cancel.

Part of me wonders what my life would look like if I could keep pace with everyone else. I’m proud of mastering the work situation but it hurts to think of the trail of people who don’t like me because I guess my behaviour is rude.

Are there any other flakes out there? Because I love you and I feel your pain. Stay strong, we’re not horrible people – we just need good people to help build us back up, not knock us further down.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the most perfect thread

Like a line of gold thread

Weaving through fabric

The perfect succession

Of hilarious Twitter comments;

The tonic for anything

But a drain on my time.

I just found the most perfect Twitter thread and I was literally crying with laughter. It’s amazing when you spot a little pool of people on the internet, so like yourself that you feel you all need to get together and form your own nation.

If you are interested it’s here. But it’s basically loads of people trying to decide which UK restaurant is the best to have a breakdown in. Given that I spend time at work wondering where is the best place to have a cry (in the cupboard at the far end of the staff room, if you’re interested).

But the fact that people are thinking so carefully about this question like it’s some kind of school project that needs to be answered, is just fabulous.

I won’t ruin your fun and tell you all the answers that people have given but I will tell you that I agree Wagamamas has to be the worst as you have to share a bench with strangers and that’s never fun when you have snot wiped across your face.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the fearless ones

man wearing white suit jacket and white pants
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They swim through life with ease,

The fearless ones will hold their own

In a grown up world of vicious knocks,

They’ll laugh it off and make a new

Beginning for successful ends,

The fearless ones will always win

And somehow I don’t mind the fact.

Since working as a teacher, I have become very aware of the fact that there are students out there who are destined to just make it in life. And the annoying thing is that these guys don’t even need to try; their charisma will just carry them through to greatness.

I’m sure that everyone has met this type of person. They are nearly always boys and they are terrific flirts. They never try hard at school and you always find them in the lower sets, academically – of course, in PE they excel.

Anyway, you find that even though most teachers are pulling their hair out when they teach these guys, we also normally have a little bit of a soft spot for them, and we know that they’ll probably do really well in life.

I have a few boys in my classes that fit into this group and I can see them being fantastic sales people and they will probably earn five times what I do in their commissions.

I just wish that we could meet all of our students twenty years down the line to see if our predictions are correct. It’s frustrating to know that these kids have put no effort in, at all, but the world is a better place for having these people in it. Even if it’s just for jokes.

Much Love

Rachel xx