called up to the olympics

gray olympics concrete block
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I saw on Facebook, somebody had written that it would be far more entertaining if the Olympics were not for elite athletes but for ordinary people who randomly get called up for any sport. So you would get a letter through the post two weeks before telling you that you had been picked for the freestyle BMX event and you would just have to try your best.

Surely this would be great for stopping all of those armchair critics who seem to think that their nasty opinions are worth anything. The people slating Simone Biles might be less scathing in their attacks when they are called up for pole vault.

I also secretly would like to have a go at the dancing horse event; I reckon I’d do quite well at that. Any thoughts?

Much Love

Rachel xx

am i bad?

I had a conversation at church today because I’ve had a lot of battles in my mind and I felt like I just needed to speak to someone about it.

I don’t know about anyone else who is a Christian and came to faith as an adult, but I’ve always had this nagging feeling that I’m evil and that I’m going to be one of those people that is going to hell. I feel this even more because my mum doesn’t talk to me and I feel like you do have to be really evil for your mother to turn her back on you.

I have got to the point where I’m questioning myself and whether or not I’ve deserved the abandonment. However, speaking to someone at church they told me that she has pushed the whole family away, not me.

It’s just interesting that we hang onto the feelings that we have as a child that if our parent is angry at us we must have done something wrong. Perhaps that’s just me as I do know that it was something I explored when I went to counselling.

Since I was really small I was always worried that my mum was going to kill herself because of me and those feelings have lingered into my adult life. Whenever I upset her, as a child, she could sometimes disappear for days or wouldn’t speak to me for weeks. I thought that was quite normal but at therapy I was told that it’s bordering on neglect.

My point is, that we carry a lot from our childhoods and being a Christian has sometimes really not helped me at all because I feel like there is no such thing as a loving parent; their love must always come with conditions.

I’m working through this and I think that I need to read my Bible more and listen to talks and remind myself that there is love in this world, and anyone who is feeling the same as me needs to be reminded that too.

Much Love

Rachel xx

wilderness vlogs

aerial shot of mountain
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I need the green to soothe the fuzz

Of faceless offices that swirl in minds

And fill our day to day.

The hum of crickets, the songs of birds,

Even if I can’t be there myself,

I watch and wait for my own turn

To swim in waters wild and cold to touch

And hike the rocky outcrops that

Are always there to wash away this life.

I cannot stop watching Youtubers who create content about the wilderness, hiking, wild camping and wild swimming. Their wilderness vlogs are sometimes the most calming thing in my day and they fill me with some excitement for life – something that I think we can all struggle to find from time to time.

There is something so beautiful about watching a well put together video that shows the beauty of what we have right here in the UK. The Lake District and the Scottish Highlands are just two of the places I’ve been looking at.

I’m lucky enough to be visiting the Lake District in two weeks time and I can’t wait to go for some runs and hikes. I’m even going to take my swimsuit and goggles and I might put in a couple of miles in Coniston.

There is just something so human about being away from the cities and towns that are sometimes so jarring to our souls. The wilderness is both beautiful and dangerous and I think that resonates with all humans on some level.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the power of the bittersweet

three lemons on white surface
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The sour taste that burns that tongue, screwing eyes

And making faces out of something beautiful,

But sugar like the fairy dust that sweetens all

The evil in the world; it softens us

And eases pain we thought would burn us to the core.

We wish that every day was filled with rose

And dusty light that turns the world so heavenly.

But smooth can’t come without the rough

And we need pain to build a human core.

I was having a flick through Twitter this afternoon and somebody asked for stories of the bittersweet variety. And the stories that followed were so lovely and heart wrenching that I spent a fair bit of time reading them and considering the power of the bittersweet in my own life.

I think that we all love those stories because we know that the fairytale can’t really exist. The idea of the princess getting her prince and riding off into the sunset is just too unrealistic for us as complex human beings.

There were a lot of stories about death which I found interesting because it seemed that a lot of people could find something really positive come out of something that is obviously devastating. One that really made my heart break was about a woman who’s dad died a week before Christmas. He used to send her kids gift boxes and obviously that wasn’t going to happen. Then she flew home for the holidays and found a big box of her favourite childhood gifts that he hadn’t managed to post before he died.

I also enjoyed reading about the people who had their dreams come true only to realise that it wasn’t the answer to their anxieties that had plagued them their whole life.

In my own life I have seen the power of the bittersweet with my mum. I miss her loads since she left us but she was very negative and I think that held us back. I’m now living independently and I’ve qualified as a teacher. I am proud, but left with a broken heart.

I think we love these stories because we need to see that things aren’t perfect. We actually thrive on a setback or a heart break. It puts the fire in our bellies.

Much Love

Rachel xx

they watch over us

angelic statue and sunset scenery
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They watch over us when we grapple

With the hardest questions posed in life,

The toughest moments, bringing to our knees,

We looks up towards the leaden sky and ask

Are you there? Do you know how this will end?

Of course they don’t, but they are there,

Placing hands that love and heal on our heavy shoulders

As we stride into those battles that seemed insurmountable.

They cry a tear or two with us, wishing they could touch

In much the same way that they could when living.

But never let it be forgot, that they are there,

Watching over when it hurts and when there’s joy,

They’re always there and if you wish it hard enough

You’ll still feel those arms, giving you a loving squeeze.

Sorry, another Olympic themed post. I am a sports fan so you might get bored over these next few weeks if you don’t care for swimming or athletics or any other new sport that I have taken a fancy to!

My most recent tears came in the diving when Tom Daley won gold in the synchronised event. In the UK, we have been watching him since he was 14 and just hoping that he will one day win.

This was made all the more important when his biggest fan, his dad, got a brain tumour and passed away. Since then, it feels as though it became more important to Tom, to make his dad proud.

He got that illusive gold this morning and it just made me think that his dad must have been smiling down. I really do think that the people we love, who have passed on, do watch over us and share in our successes. We may not be able to feel them and have a hug from them but they are definitely have them close all of the time.

Much Love

Rachel xx

on failure

gold and blue trophy on red surface
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I’m not sure if it’s pain, or hot and sticky shame

That makes failure so bitter to the tongue,

So uncomfortable, it stings the eyes when cameras

Are watching with their thick rimmed lenses,

Judging and assessing you, and knowing

It’s not good enough, you fell so bloody short.

No-one hates you but that’s not the way it feels,

As you slink out of the light, into the shadows

Where we lick our ugly gaping wounds.

I’m a self-confessed Olympics fan and although swimming is my favourite, I find myself getting drawn into everything else that is going on. And today’s action reminded me of the pain that comes with failure when you wanted something so bad.

Jade Jones is a double Olympic Taekwondo champion and an all round legend. Today she was going for her third title, but she crashed out in her first fight. It was a bit of a shock to watch but what was most important was to watch the interview with her afterwards.

She was just so emotional and it was heartbreaking to see how five years of work, gone in a few minutes, affects a person.

Now, Jade is an Olympian so just getting there makes her anything but a failure, but she didn’t achieve what she wanted and it was crushing. And what makes it worse is that it has to be watched on such a global stage. When you just want to curl up and cry, it takes an immense amount of strength and dignity to go out there and give an interview about what ‘went wrong’.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with failure and I’ve had plenty of them throughout my life. It’s amazing how lonely you feel in these moments, like nobody else has ever suffered that devastation before.

I remember being about fourteen and missing a medal in the county championships by less that a second. I went straight to the changing rooms and I buried my face in my towel so that nobody could hear my sobs. It was very lonely in that changing cubicle and I wish that I’d had somebody to give me a hug and tell me that it happens to EVERYONE.

Today, I wanted to give Jade a hug. I’m sure she’ll recover but I’m sure she is hurting tonight.

Much Love

Rachel xx

earning those friendships back

pink carton gift box on table
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Those friends are very much like Christmas presents

Wrapped with fancy paper, and bows and little tags.

You take them all for granted on that special morning,

Tearing through the paper, in long and elegant strips,

Pushing each aside with just a cursory glance,

But each was bought with love and thought and you

Just cast them to one side, pushed to the back

Of dusty wardrobes or up in darkened attics.

You’ll need that gift one day though, and then

You will wish that you had cared a little more,

Let’s just hope that it’s not too late

To blow the dust away and love that gift again.

I had a friendship while I was drinking that was really important to me. And it was a healthy friendship because I would go to his house every Saturday night and he would make me food and I would have a night away from the booze.

But, because alcohol clouds your judgement and makes you do ridiculous things, I managed to trash the friendship. It was one of the very last straws and it forced me to get sober, but unfortunately I couldn’t bring myself to go back.

Anyway, almost five years later I decided to message this guy and ask if he fancied going for a run (preceded by a heartfelt apology of course). He wrote back and said yes.

It feels like I’ve healed one of the final things that I had a regret and a resentment over. I realised how special the relationship was as soon as I had trashed it and I am sad that it has taken me all of this time to swallow my pride and fix something I undervalued and threw away.

Make sure that you value the gift of friendship. Those people are precious.

Much Love

Rachel xx

to have the chills

That tightly pulled silence that stretches over crowds

And then a simple beep to set the wheels in motion,

The world just holding one collective breath

As swimmers pull and runners push for just a moment,

Four years of sacrifice all rolled into minutes.

We just see that moment in time when everything

Comes together and a gleaming medal is hung

Around their necks, photos taken and anthems sung,

Was it worth it? Of course it was.

I’m absolutely buzzing for the start of the Olympics; to have the chills that only come with sport. I think it’s because I was an athlete as a kid, so I know the sacrifices that are made. I never made it to the Olympics but I can certainly understand what they have put themselves through.

I was lucky enough to go to the London Olympics and see the first day of swimming. It was only the heats but the atmosphere felt electric. I remember the British swimmer, Hannah Miley, won her heat in the 400m IM and I burst into tears. All the hairs on my arms stood on end and it just felt like one of the most amazing moments in my life.

These Olympics will obviously be very different, with no crowds, but I’m sure the athletes will realise that we are all in our living rooms, cheering them on. It will still be possible to have the chills, we just need to become 100% invested in their race and their story, because they have all fought through difficulties to get there.

The video above is enough to have the chills no matter who you are. There will be magical moments and heartbreaking moments and we need to enjoy them and live them with the athletes.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

stop nasty facebook comments – please

grayscale photography of man reading newspaper
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They come in droves, those people who feel

The need to spout words or barbs of hate

At people that they don’t know.

I bet the editors love these folks

Who jump on the bandwagon and swim with the rest,

Angrily jabbing at keys on a laptop,

Refusing to turn and take on the current,

But keen to tell the world what they think they think,

But that don’t know, because God-like men

Make these columns like drugs and the comments,

Are the sweetest of nectars to the mindless souls

Perpetuating hate on a global scale.

I keep getting articles about Harry and Meghan on my Facebook feed and I just can’t help but read the comments – even though I know they will make me so angry. The outlets that share the stories are red top tabloids and they are fishing for a reaction, and they get it. We just need to stop nasty Facebook comments altogether.

It’s not just Harry and Meghan that get all of the hate, but a huge proportion of it is directed at them. It just feel as though the whole world is now wired to tear people down.

I don’t know how these things work but I assume that the newspaper has employees or paid content creators to comment first so that the tone is set. Once that is done it’s like mass brainwashing, everyone just jumps on and has a go at the poor souls at the centre of it.

I’m being very conscious recently, of not reading the comments and agreeing immediately. If we are going to stop nasty Facebook comments we need to learn to take stock, perhaps do a bit of our own research before we form an opinion and then air it publicly. This is how we have all become so divided and it’s depressing to watch us tear each other to shreds in an open arena.

Be kind to one another,

Rachel xx

words for young minds

The words we write for the purest ones,

The ones who still are yet to see the world

That you and I have seen, have felt stab wounds

That scared us, hurt us, broke our hearts,

We need to write those words so delicate

To ease them into real pain,

To soften the inevitable blow

When life comes lurching in their way.

I’ve started writing bits and pieces for young adult readers because I have spent so much time around this age group. And I see that most of them are on the cusp of understanding the world a little more. Some of them have already started to see it through adult eyes.

I think that literature is a way to soften the blow. If they can read about these things through the eyes of characters that they fall in love with, then they can have a little taste of it without getting the full whack.

I’ve had three kids in my tutors groups this year who have lost parents in the last 12 months and that must be horrific for a twelve year old to go through. I have seen the deep pain that causes and it actually scares me as an adult. I’m not suggesting that a book could take away that pain, but perhaps they can help kids through those difficult moments.

Much Love

Rachel xx