your pain is so heavy

brown chains
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It weighs me down like a weekly shop,

Sainsbury’s bags swinging at my side

As I struggle with the front door keys,

Just wanting to get inside, forget

About the queues and the man coughing on me

Down in the bacon and sausage aisle.

But this weight is necessary,

I need to feel it in my heart and lungs,

If I am to survive…

I’ve heard lots of really sad stories over the last few days and they have been weighing heavily on my heart. They were stories told through audiobooks and Youtube so I could have quite easily turned them off; but I didn’t.

I continued listening all the way to the end and really took the weight of the pain in the process. And I’ve been spending the last few hours thinking about why I kept listening.

Sometimes, I think that we need to hear of other people’s pain to help us with our own. These stories were told by highly successful people who appear to have their shit together. These people pulling the curtain back and showing us that everybody hurts makes us feel connected, no longer alone.

However, that doesn’t take away the heaviness that comes with hearing these stories. I think these stories were sent my way to remind me that life is hard but we can all pick ourselves up after a fall.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i’m super clever

light inside library
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I’ve read the books that you wished you had

And I raced through a degree

With a full time job.

I write poetry and books

And have critical thoughts on important themes.

But deep down we know that I’ve lied a lot,

I’m a little bit lazy and I skim those books,

I was drunk when I studied

And depressed when I passed

And I only found freedom

When I let down that mask.

I’m an English teacher but I sometimes feel way too dumb to do the job. I feel like a fraud and one of my darkest secrets is that I know zilch about Shakespeare.

When I did my degree in Literature, I had one free choice module and I did one on European politics. I hadn’t really read the timetables for the other courses, and it was only once I started the module that I realised I would not be able to do the Shakespeare module. And so, now I know nothing.

And then I did a postgraduate law conversion course while working full time and taking a foundation course at work. The law textbooks were huge and there was no way I was going to have time to read them. So I just used Wiki to write my essays.

During my Literature degree I never figured out how to access the freaking library so I never read an academic book.

I still haven’t got round to finishing Harry Potter.

The list goes on.

I’m just writing all this because we all cheat and make do, and we all puff up our achievements to make ourselves sound better. But really we’re all just scared little children too scared to ask someone how I’m supposed to borrow a book.

You’re not alone.

Much Love

Rachel xx

what’s really down there?

grayscale photo of woman
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What’s underneath, in the deep and the dark,

The water so murky that anything could

Be lurking in wait to grab at your wrists,

Your ankles, pulling you down to your death.

Those long muscly tentacles reach out for you

When you least expect fighting for valuable air,

That’s when that sea monster will swim after you.

I find it absolutely crazy that some people are scared of water, or they can’t ride a bike or if they don’t read books. These are all things I like and so they have always come naturally to me.

Swimming is one of those things that puts the fear of God into some people; that fear of having a expanse of water below you is very real. And then if you throw in the fact that you can’t see down in the sea, I can understand why people are afraid.

I, on the other hand, see swimming as a bit like flying; it’s so freeing. I feel like I’m immune to those sea monster fears that plague other people.

I do wonder if life would be different if I had that fear and what fears do hold me back. I’ve been lucky enough to swim across the English Channel and it is my proudest achievement, but if I was scared of what’s below I wouldn’t have even left the beach.

I must have loads of fears that have kept me on my metaphorical beach, and I suppose we all have them. I’m going to try and start dipping my toe in a bit more regularly this year. Make sure you don’t get stranded on the beach worrying about a sea monster that doesn’t even exist.

Yours Swimmingly,

Rachel xx

was shakespeare in love?

photo of black ceramic male profile statue under grey sky during daytime
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What was the love that pushed his quill

Across pages of parchment, churning out words

That swim through the ages, touching us here

In ways that we struggle to formulate now.

Was he a human with feelings like us,

How did those lines spout from a man?

Perhaps he was alien, from a planet afar,

Just watching people like animals in zoos,

Learning our manners in a way we refuse.

I remember when I was in Year 10 and studying for my GCSEs and I have a vivid memory of acting out a scene from Romeo and Juliet and thinking about Shakespeare writing those words.

It was a strange thought and it may have stemmed from the fact that Shakespeare in Love had just come out. But, I remember wondering if he could have fathomed that 400 years later a bunch of kids would still be reading out his words in school.

That must be mind blowing for a writer, to know that you have had that effect on the world. But it does beg the question: what the hell was his life like?

He must have had such a passionate and exciting life – to be able to come up with all those stories that still ring true in our hearts and minds. It makes me think that perhaps he wasn’t even human.

It just goes to show that being one of us stirs up the same feeling regardless of the time or place. The internet or world wide travel makes no difference when it comes to heartbreak and love and power and conflict. It never changes.

Much Love

Rachel xx

it’s all in the eyes

crop unrecognizable person with bright eye and rare eyelashes
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You see it flicker past

The darkness of the eyes,

A little light behind

That proves there’s life

And joy and pain and more.

I’ve watched quite a few films and programmes recently where the cameraman has been a bit arty and they have spent entire scenes focused really closely on the actor’s face.

You would think that it would be really boring to just look at a face at the expense of everything else that is going on around the character, but I’ve noticed it’s quite the opposite.

There is something so fascinating about the eyes. They can give away any feeling someone is experiencing no matter how confidently they try to cover it. Sadness, panic, confusion – it’s all there.

They always say that the eyes are the window to the soul and I think there’s truth in that. I would even go as far as to say that I get good feelings that I will like somebody because they have kind eyes.

Next time you’re unsure of somebody, take a proper look into their eyes. It will probably tell you all you need to know.

Much Love

Rachel xx

a change of use for the tennis courts

green tennis ball on court
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How long are two years, and yet how short?

When twenty four months can bring so much change

I think as I walk through the tennis courts

Way too expensive to play on, in another life,

I would dream of setting foot on the polished green,

Watching the women married to bankers,

Kids in the creche, never worked a day in their life.

But now, things are so different; I can walk

Through the nets and sit down with sleeve

Rolled to my shoulder for a vaccine we didn’t

Know we would need, but that was before,

When those courts underfoot were way out of reach.

I went to have my booster vaccine the other day and it was on the tennis courts attached to a really fancy hotel in my home town. They are indoor courts and the kind of place where rich kids go to have private lessons on Saturday mornings. In short, it’s a place I normally don’t belong.

But the world isn’t normal any more, is it?

It is strange though, that I felt a little bit like I was trespassing into a world that I don’t belong in. I even had a laugh with Noah when I left, saying that I should have had my vaccine out on the outdoor courts in the wind and the rain.

This brave new world is opening unexpected new doors – both good and bad.

Much Love

Rachel xx

is old love different?

old couple walking while holding hands
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We could use a tired metaphor about fruit

That is battered and bruised and shriveled

And how love is blind

To those glaring imperfections.

But that would be lazy, so I’ll do away

With poetic devices and ask what I want,

Do I have less chance of finding a love,

And when it is found, what is it like?

Can it be passionate or is it dulled down?

It’s colours muted, a sepia dream?

I am hurtling towards forty and while that is not old by any stretch of the imagination, it is an age that I’m sure makes a lot of us stop and think when we reach it. In an average life, it’s half way and that seems like the perfect time to pause and take stock.

And one of the things that I’m thinking about a lot is my lack of love. I think that after my childhood experiences and then a disastrous marriage when I was so young, I’ve scared myself away from it. It’s strange because I’m terrified of it and I also pine for it.

And now that I’m past that ‘normal’ age when people fall in love and get married and have a passionate relationship, I wonder what any relationship would look like. Would it even look any different?

I hear a lot of celebrities who have found love in their forties and later, and their love sounds so sweet. Perhaps understanding that life doesn’t have a neat ending like it does in the movies makes us approach love in a whole new way?

I’m ready to find somebody to share my life with, but that fear that has plagued my life will most definitely make it look different to that ideal that I’ve held in my head. But maybe that could lead to something better. Has anyone else out there met their love later on? Any thoughts?

Much Love

(And Happy New Year)

Rachel xx

I need to see the world through their eyes

woman face eye eyelashes
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I need to remember that feeling

When nobody understands

And everyone asks

Yet you cannot say

Because you don’t even know.

I get so frustrated with my 15 year old students because I always think that they are rude and unreasonable. They don’t behave and then when they do badly in an assessment they blame me. Quite frankly, they are insufferable.

However, I just watched a programme that followed a girl in high school and I was reminded that teenagers have really complicated lives these days. There was so much texting in this show that even I couldn’t follow it, so how teenagers keep up with all those messages, I’ll never know.

And then I need to remember that their little brains are processing all these crazy feelings for the first time. As an adult, I spent a decade of my life drinking copious amounts of vodka to get rid of those feelings so I can’t really get angry at them.

Kids have a bloody difficult time now and perhaps it’s me, the grown up, that needs to hold onto that thought.

Much Love

Rachel xx

always carry a notebook

black pencil on white notepad near cup of coffee
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She was the type of woman to always have

A notebook tucked away in her inside pocket,

Yellow fabric covered, printed with bumble bees

Because that would make her feel good

When the weather was crap and work was hell.

She’d write little things in there, not all nice,

But things that made her stop and think, or smile,

Or even seethe inside, just things that made her feel.

She called this book her almanac, her treasure chest

And when she read the pages back (out loud, of course)

Her friends would sit in silence, taking it all in,

Wishing they’d articulate the world the way she could.

I don’t do resolutions that are hard and easy to break. I think they are totally pointless and they crush our dreams in the process. I do like to use this time of year to set little challenges though.

This year I’m definitely going to become one of those people who walk around with a notebook on them. I am really curious to see what could be written down if I were to have the opportunity to write at any time.

I’m sure there would be pages of pure crap, but you never know, there could be a few little gems.

Much Love

Rachel xx

big city love

aerial view and grayscale photography of high rise buildings
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We meet in random kitchens over

Cheap bottles of wine and fat lines of coke,

Like atoms bouncing about, without

Rhyme or reason, just lolling on sofas

And kissing in public house toilets.

The clubs bring us together, our hearts

Beating together with drum and bass,

Skittering out into the night, cold and crisp,

Holding hands with men who were strangers,

And now I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

If you can’t tell yet, I feel a little bit obsessed with love – so I’m going to write about it again today.

Because I have been watching lots of holiday movies, I’ve felt immersed in city life. I live out in the country now, but I did live in London when I first turned eighteen. And I have to admit that watching all those movies has made me miss it a bit.

There is something about the randomness of city life that you just can’t get out here. In the city you bump into people and then they become your friends or lovers and there is no way of telling which of the millions of people that live there will come into your circle.

When I moved to London, I knew nobody and I cultivated a whole life for myself and that random cast of characters that formed that part of my life will stay with me forever.

I love the countryside, but big city love is something special.

Much Love

Rachel xx