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.

i’d be a donkey so that i could ride jesus on me

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When words all muddle into muddy puddles

So that colours blend to make a brown

And nonsense pours from every mouth,

We blush and try to take it back

But sometimes it’s just best to think,

Let those neurons spark and light

And see the words in proper form,

Not showing naked ugliness,

But clothed in beauty such that makes

The crowds all stop and sigh

With something quite a lot like awe.

As a trainee English teacher, I’m obviously really passionate about writing and crafting words into the most beautiful shape possible. But I also have the chance to hear and read some of the worst use of words that you could possibly wish to stumble upon.

I find that a lot of the times when students make no sense at all, they know what they are trying to say but they have tried to rush it out quickly and it comes out as nonsense.

It can be quite funny to read but sometimes hearing it is just downright hilarious. I asked my tutor group what animal they would be and why and this kid answered that he wanted to be a donkey ‘so that I could ride Jesus on me.’

He just breezed over the sentence like it made perfect sense but the teacher and I were killing ourselves with laughter because he sounded like Yoda.

I absolutely love these slips of the tongues. There are always times when someone comes out and says something filthy to their boss or their parents and only register what they have said once it is out.

I think it’s a major problem with the wiring in our brains and if they were computers we would be taking them back to PC World straight away. I find it funny but I know it’s never quite so hilarious when it’s your own brain that’s malfunctioned.

Much Love

Rachel xx

sewing a dress

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Her fingers work like dancers over yards of fabric

Patterned with those little flowers, pink and blue.

The sewing machine buzzes with the cold activity

Of a room that’s pale in winter sun, and yet

There’s sprinkles of the brightest colour,

Fabric swatches and those mannequins, draped and swathed

With toile and satin dyed in beauty, orange burnt

To something warm, in a room so white it hurts

To stare too long at freezing walls.

But as she works, the garment starts to shape,

Bending to her will, the skirts flare out

And she can picture twirling it, on a carpet

Scarlet with the cameras flashing, begging for

A shot of her. Who’s she wearing? they will shout

And she will blush and say it’s hers.

When it’s done she slides it on, her porcelain skin

And bright red lips curl into a smile,

An angel in her little heaven, soon to spread

Her devil wings, and venture out to turn some heads.

what i would have in my rider

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I’m not a pop star and I cannot sing or dance

And yet I’ll often wonder what I would have

In my rider for dressing rooms on tour.

I’d have flowers that are yellow, and candles

That smell strongly of sandalwood.

I’d have big bowls of Reese’s and cold cherry coke

And I’d order in pizza that I’d eat with my dancers

When we roll off the stage looking sweaty and tired.

We’d crush into rooms in cities with no names,

Laughing at signs that we’d read in the crowd

While buzzing with nerves that twang with the tension,

The crowds drifting out to beds that are warm,

Ears still ringing for days at a time

And we’ll move on to another arena, a cathedral

To pop music prayed to by the masses

And paying for my flowers and sandalwood candles.

a monster calls

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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

returning to the known

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Those dusty corridors that occupied my mind

For months I tried to shake those lockers

Metal bending, warping with the memories

That once were sharp and rigid too

Holding all the information needed for

A smooth return to something so familiar

It’s like a dream that will recur

Several times a week, but then

There’s always ogres in the doorways

Ready for a gory pounce, to end that calm

That once immersed my body like the lake

That ripples as the water closes up

Over heads that thought they knew too much.

I’m going back to my first school placement tomorrow and I should be really excited because it’s familiar. But the familiar is actually scaring me a little bit. I thought that I was being ridiculous, but after speaking to the other trainees today, it seems that I’m not alone.

I though that going back to something that was known would be a breeze but I realise now that so many things are actually quite different, and that includes me. I’ve had to learn so much since Christmas so I bet I have learnt loads and really managed to put a lot of it into practice.

I think that I’m a bit worried that they will think I haven’t come on enough, but I must be doing OK because I got a job. I need to keep telling myself that these negative thoughts are possibly a load of rubbish.

We all need to be a bit nicer to ourselves and actually enjoy going back to see all the nice people who helped me during my first term. Wish me luck!

Much Love

Rachel xx

lessons out on the field

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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?

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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