loss of independence day

car vehicle fire smoke
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The veil of darkness falls across the sky

As movement and my freedom wane,

I walk on weary legs, to places seen

Only through a window pane.

I realise now, the slave that I’ve become

And when that object that I crave

Goes up in flames, a wall of icy heat,

Then I know that independence was

The most important thing to me.

I realise that this poem is very dramatic and it sounds like my whole life has gone up in flames, but with my car quite literally going up in flames, I have lost something really important to me: my independence.

I learnt to drive when Noah was a baby and I realised that getting the bus with a baby and a pushchair and a few bags of shopping was just too much for me to cope with. And since then my car has become more important to me than I actually realised.

I work in a school that is out in the middle of nowhere and I have a teenager who I could need to get to if anything goes wrong at his school. So not having the car has actually made me feel a bit panicked.

I feel that it’s a bit sad that I’m so reliant on my car because I don’t even particularly like cars. But it’s that freedom that I crave. I’m hoping that I can get a new one super quick and I will never have to see the inside of a bus again.

I take my hat off to those of you that commute on public transport all of the time. You are all legends.

Much Love

Rachel xx

it took an explosion to realise something about myself…

I sometimes get myself so stressed out about some things and a lot of the time I couldn’t even tell you why I’ve gotten myself into such a state. However, there are also other times when I feel that I should be upset and I don’t seem to care.

Example: last night Noah came into my room to ask for ear plugs because there was a truck outside. I looked out the window and saw blue lights but it’s too far to see the road properly so I couldn’t see what was going on. And so I went back to sleep.

When I woke up this morning, I found tape all round my car and the front of my car had been melted by the vehicle parked in front. I think my car is a write off, but I don’t feel all that stressed.

I was thinking how losing a five pound note could make me so upset that I can’t sleep and my only form of transport being trashed has very little effect and how that doesn’t seem to make sense. But then I realised that one was my fault and one wasn’t.

I can’t seem to cope when I know that I am to blame and I know it stems from my mum making me really frightened to make mistakes. I feel like this has been another step in learning about myself and how I tick.

I’m just wondering if there is any way of overcoming this now that I have noticed it’s when I blame myself that everything falls apart. My brain continues to fascinate me and it’s actually been quite fun in some ways, getting sober and finding all this stuff out that I probably should have learnt fifteen years ago!

Much Love

Rachel xx

playing on heights

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The arms can circle like the spokes

Of a paper windmill in the seaside shop,

Trying to regain a steadiness

To overcome that awful sense of gravity

And its earthly pull towards the ground

Where bodies crumple in a shattered mess.

Yet still we let the children run along

The ramparts of a kingly castle,

Swing from branches of the royals oaks

But all that I can do is turn my eyes

Away from whirling arms and then

The piercing scream that follows

That grossly hollow thud.

Does anyone else have a real fear of heights, but not for your own sake but for others? I am a bit scared of heights for myself but I am absolutely terrified when I watch other people playing around anywhere near the edge.

I realised that I had a bit of a problem when I went to Paris with my swimming club when I was fourteen. We went to see the Eiffel Tower and we stopped to take photos in front of it. There was a really high wall and one of my friends jumped up on it and started to walk along it.

I literally begged her to get down because my mind kept thinking that she was going to trip and fall over the edge. I could feel my palms sweating and my heart beating way too fast and I was on the brink of tears I felt so frightened.

Since having Noah I have come to realise that I also cannot watch children playing on climbing frames for the same reason. Watching them take crazy risks is just too much for me and I have to sit with my back to the equipment to save myself from becoming one of those crazy helicopter parents.

And then tonight I was watching TV and someone was playing on the edge of a building and I thought I was going to die. It’s probably the thing that I’m most afraid of and I wish that I wasn’t so worried about it. It might be because I’m afraid of broken bones and I have a feeling that falling from a great height will lead to just that.

Isn’t it strange the things that we are most afraid of in life?

Much Love

Rachel xx

the reasons why we do it

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To find our riches and our fame,

The love for us will roll from lips

Of strangers, friends and family

All hoping they can bathe in light

Emitted from our regal bodies,

Casting warmth to toast their fingers,

Palms turned up to take in heat.

But what will happen when that fire

That rages in our bodies dies?

Will they turn away, bundled in their coats,

Shaking heads at what a disappointment we have been?

We have to do it for the fun of it,

The simple joy of having done a most fantastic thing.

We mustn’t do it for the love, the adoration

Or the Facebook likes. That will sap

The peace we crave underneath the fame.

I was reading Matt Haig’s Notes On A Nervous Planet and there was one of the notes that really stuck out for me. It was about our need for ‘things’ and I know that it is something that I struggle with, looking at what other people have and wishing that I had it too.

However, he made a really great point that wanting can also be seen as lacking. It is fine to want something; I guess that as humans we are programmed to need some goals and there would be no point in working if you couldn’t treat yourself once in a while. But that feeling of needing a new pair of jeans means that there is something lacking somewhere else in us.

It’s something that I’ve known and understood for a long time, but it did make me stop reading and take a moment to think about the message. I think it’s something that we all need to stop and think about sometimes. We are at our happiest when we are just being, so I know that this week I’m going to spend a bit more time enjoying the moment.

Much Love

Rachel xx

but it’s not fair

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Those burning justices that do not come to be

Enrage the hearts of nations and of individuals

Fighting for the right to speak and to be heard.

But heavy boots will stomp and squash their words

Like the marching of an army over neutral land

And the planting of a flag within the rugged ground.

You have been silenced, as for fairness, I don’t care,

You’ll stay where you are neatly put,

And you can sulk with all your might,

But let me warn you, it will never be quite worth the fight.

I hear so much about fairness at the moment and I realise that there are so many of us that are fighting real injustices, but I do also notice that there are many times when that perceived injustice is just that: merely a perception.

The amount of times that I have kicked up a fuss in my own mind because somebody has treated me rudely is numerous. But when I think back, how many of those times am I really justified in my quiet seething.

For example, when somebody serving me in a restaurant is rude to me and I think the service is terrible and I want to go and write all over Trip Advisor how bad my experience was. But what made him rude? Has another customer been horrible to him? Has his boss chewed him out for something he didn’t do? Did he just read a text from his girlfriend confirming that she had been cheating on him all along? So much of this has nothing to do with me.

I had a situation this afternoon where we were getting the kids to name countries in Africa and if they couldn’t come up with one they were out of the game. Somebody said South Africa and then a couple of people along I reached a girl who proudly said North Africa. Of course, I said no to that one and she kicked off! She started shouting that I had allowed South Africa so it was totally unfair that I hadn’t allowed her answer. I literally thought that she was going to burst into tears she was so angry.

She perceived that she was in the right and I was serving her a massive injustice. It just made me think that before we kick off we should perhaps pause and think. This example made me chuckle but remember that families are torn apart because of ridiculous things like that, just silly misunderstandings that I hope you don’t have to endure.

Much Love

Rachel xx

swimming through eddies

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We stood on the promenade that ran along the bank of the river. There were about twenty of us all clad in our England swim kits. The race was going to take place that afternoon; a 5km slog up the river and back again.

“So we’re walking the course,” said the woman who had selected our team and organised everything about the trip, from the travel and accommodation through to which T-shirt we should be wearing if we were called up to the podium to collect a medal.

“And why would we want to walk the course?” she asked us, holding her hands together, palm to palm, as though she were praying.

Heather’s hand shot up and she gushed “so that we know about any obstacles and where the currents are.” She puffed out her chest, proud that she was the one to impress the chief.

“Well done, Heather,” said the chief. Her name was Wendy and she was small and old, but also formidable.

We traipsed down the promenade, all in our navy blue polo shirts with the England roses embroidered onto the front. When the package with all of the kit had come through the post, I had held the polo shirt in my hands and stared at it for longer than was necessary. This was the kit that I had given up my childhood for.

“Stop!” Wendy ordered, and we all ground to a halt. Just in front of us was a stone bridge, beautifully French and curved. “What do we notice here?” she asked.

I could sense Heather shift uncomfortably, knowing that she didn’t have an answer for this one.

“A bridge?” Tom ventured. He looked like Michael Phelps and I kind of fancied him. Someone in our midst sniggered and I hoped that they would do badly in the race.

“You’re not far off,” said Wendy. “It is a bridge. But what do you notice about the water flowing through it?”

“It’s going quickly?” Tom asked.

“Yes!” Wendy said. “And why do we want to concern ourselves with that?”

We all stood quietly.

“Think about the way you move through life,” she said.

We all continued to stay quiet. I thought about my own lumbering journey through life. I was only fifteen but I already knew that I was the kind of person that would always be unlucky – always running into road blocks.

“You find the easiest route,” Wendy answered for us. “You follow the quickest road and if somebody comes along and gives you a bit of a push, you take advantage of it and build on that speed. That’s how you got here, and that’s how you are going to live successful lives in the future.”

Everybody nodded knowingly. I nodded too. I didn’t know what she meant.

“Use the eddies that go through the bridge,” she clarified. “Make sure that you stick close to the walls as you go under the bridge. That’s where the current is at its fastest. It’s where the water acts like that friend that’s going to give you a little push. Take advantage of that.”

Everybody began to move on to the next feature that Wendy was going to point out but I stood rooted to the spot, staring at the fast running water that passed under the bridge. I touched the cold granite wall that ran along the edge of the river and waited to feel the light bulb moment that the other swimmers seemed to have just experienced.

I learnt to use currents to my advantage that day, and yet I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to live the life that Wendy thought I would. She probably expected us all to grow up to be doctors and lawyers. I moved on sadly, knowing that I was always bound to let Wendy down.

a monster calls

frightening kid in halloween costume on street
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His twisted hands will grasp at throats

Of men who merely want to live,

To love the world that’s shattered by

A world of ghosts and ghouls that haunt our dreams

And pull our lives down to the ground.

Those monsters tear the shroud of gloom

That cloaked the days we longed to love.

But we are humans and utopias

Will never be reality, never work

In way that are so feasible.

We’ll always be this scared,

fearing for our lives; being but a child

Makes so little difference here.

Those monsters will still come for you

In your adult world.

I’m sitting in a little side room listening to a lesson on A Monster Calls with Year 7 going on next door to me. Year 7 students are 11-12 years old so they are just at that age where they know that monsters and Santa and fairies don’t exist. They want to see the world scientifically and question everything that they are told.

However, the novel that they are learning about almost reintroduces the idea of monsters still existing even when you are that little bit older. They are at that in between age where they are too cool for everything, but I wonder when that fear will seep back into their lives?

All of us adults have monsters that we deal with and most of us would not feel too cool to admit that. For me, I worry that I am not enough and that I am evil and that everyone can see these awful flaws. That is the monster that keeps me awake at night.

I wish we lived in a world where our metaphorical monsters could be spirited away but, unfortunately, the world is quite a scary place and it makes me sad to know that those Year 7s I can hear next door will come to know that over the next few years of their lives. I hope they keep hold of their coolness for as long as they can….

Much Love

Rachel xx

lessons out on the field

yellow wildflowers against cloudy sky
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Those hot and sticky afternoons

When Miss would pack up books and trays

Of pencils, pens and sticks of glue

And out we’d trek onto the field.

The sun would trickle through the leaves

Dappled on the crisp white pages

Of a notebook and the poems that she taught,

Scratching chalks along the blackboard’s edge

Until she sighed, looking out to greenest seas

And clapped her hands to signal ends

Of classroom hours and the luxury

Of breathing in the April air,

Hotter than it should be now.

The kids all squeal with pure delight,

Running to the shade of trees

Like a flock of animals, released

Into the wild, free for just one afternoon.

I used to love those lessons at school when the teacher deemed it too hot to be inside and we’d all gather our stuff and race to the shade of the trees to enjoy our lesson on the field.

I thought that these lessons no longer happened but my son said that his English teacher regularly took them outside when they were reading through a text together. It made me so excited to do this when I become a teacher.

My favourite job ever was cleaning hot tubs at a luxury site that had cabins for holidays. I spent all day outside under the trees and I feel like teaching could now be exactly the same. I’m just wondering how many lessons I can spend out on the field before the Senior Leadership Team start asking me questions?

Much Love

Rachel xx

proud to be british?

gray concrete castle with flag on top under blue sky
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A flag of scarlet and of royal blue,

A union of the jacks

That whistles in the Easter wind

Preceded by those crimson coats

And Nimrod played by regal men

Who dedicated life and limb

To the majesty of them.

We felt ashamed but under Spring like sun

We felt that bubble slowly burst

And something tinged with glowing pride

Filled the hearts of all of us.

Sorry to harp on about the royal family again, but I did sit and watch the funeral today because I felt like I wanted to reflect on the life of somebody who has served this country for so many years. And it was a very moving service and all the pomp and ceremony that goes with it just fills my heart with pride for this country.

I know that we have a past that we should question in many ways, but we do have a history that is so rich in tradition and history is something that should be treasured and remembered. Even the bad bits. Because they’re the bits we learn from and we grow from there, as human beings.

I felt that anyone watching in another country would look at what was done today and they would think that Britain should be proud. Just the band playing on the lawn was magical to watch.

The Queen was also superb. I don’t know how she held her composure as well as she did. She cut an awfully lonely figure as she sat on her own in the chapel and I kind of hope that her children make sure she has a few whiskies tonight.

And I’m not normally one to openly cry at funerals of people I don’t know but when I first saw the Queen in her car my heart broke a little bit. But the part that was most poignant for me was when Nimrod was being played and the cameras panned over to the walls of the castle and the staff had all filed out from the rooms and the kitchens and stood with their heads bowed for the coffin. It was so touching that even they were included and that they really seemed to respect the man who had been their boss for so long.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

the funeral

angelic statue and sunset scenery
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All in midnight black and shades of white

That hide the curves of aching flesh

That sobs with anger and with bitterness

For what was lost with that final breath.

It’s just a wooden box that lies in state,

For all the congregation to

Ponder on, the memories that they still have

Of that man that left this world like smoke

Curling in a catlike paw, that drifts into

The ether while we stand and cry

In this world of solidity, of science

And of needing to know how it works,

But these are days when we all know

The answers are unreachable, a thing we cannot grasp.

There is lots of talk about the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh at the moment because it is going to be held tomorrow afternoon. I don’t know why but the death seems to have really struck a chord with me, possibly just because he has always been there and it feels a little like we’re all losing a grandfather.

However, it has also made me think a lot about grief in my own life and the funerals of both of my grandmothers. The first of which I was heavily pregnant with my son at the time.

We knew that she was going to die because she had terminal cancer and she knew that I was pregnant with her first great grandchild so it was sad for her that she was going to miss that event. The last words that she said to me as I leaned over and kissed her on my last visit was ‘look after that boy for me.’ I ended up naming him Noah Gene because her name was Jean.

The day of the funeral was horrible and it was the first one that I had ever been to. I think the hormones were playing havoc with my emotions and there was one moment when I just couldn’t hold onto the tears.

The car carrying the coffin had arrived at the house and the coffin was draped with the Union Jack because she did a lot of work for the British Legion. It was quite regal, in a way.

The back of the car was opened and my dad’s sister stepped forward and just threw herself onto the coffin, sobbing uncontrollably. I had never seen an adult in my life, totally lose control in that way. I come from a family that is very stiff upper lip and it was almost frightening to see.

It will stay with me forever, that day. And I think that it’s not entirely bad. Even those parts that felt shocking at the time, were just proof of how much someone was loved. I hope that the royals get to celebrate the life of their grandfather this weekend. I have a feeling they may be the reserved type.

Much Love

Rachel xx