on being in tier two

Finishing one of my Channel swims and proudly striding onto a French beach

Dark and grisly deaths,

I see them to my left.

Parties every night,

I see them on my right.

And here I am,

Stuck in the middle with you.

So London has been moved to the dreaded Tier 2 in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID. There are now three tiers in the UK with varying degrees of rules.

If you are in Tier 1 you are one of the lucky ones and have not got to lock down any more than we have in the past few weeks. In Tier 2 you have to rein it in a little bit and if you are in Tier 3 you are a little bit screwed.

But is it really worse to be in the most serious on categories? I heard somebody from London being interviewed and he made a good point. He said that if you are in full lock down you are looked after by the government to a certain extent. When you are in Tier 2 you are in limbo. You have to stop certain activities (and for some that includes work) while not really getting any help to offset the disruption.

It got me thinking about being decidedly average in life. What if we spend our entire existence in the proverbial Tier 2? Are we left out to dry while the high fliers get benefits and the less able get more support?

This could apply to everything from school and how well we perform in exams through to how pretty we are or how good we are at managing people. And it makes me wonder whether it’s best to just advertise yourself as being a bit crap.

My greatest achievement is to do the Arch to Arc triathlon as a solo athlete and I was only the 12th person in the world to complete the challenge. However, I’m now thinking that I might start selling it in a different way because although only a handful of people have finished the event, I am officially the slowest.

I don’t think I’ll get any special treatment for that but I can officially say that I am the slowest in the whole world and that’s pretty cool.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i’m scared that i won’t be able to do it…..so i’ll put on an act so that it’s ok to fail

person holding fern leaf
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I wear a spangled skin of hate,

A sheath of strong and cold bravado.

It’s not the girl I really am

But earthquakes brew within my core

And so I know that acting is

The only way to swim through pain.

Sticking to this rule of thumb

Will always mean I glide through life

And dodge the ache of failing you.

I sat in a Year 10 class today and it shocked me quite deeply. It was a lower set class and we were looking at poetry in their anthologies so I knew that it would be a bit of an uphill slog. The teacher told me that we would be lucky to get each of them to write a paragraph in the hour and a half that we had available.

Still, I sat down and watched while still holding onto a little bit of hope. It was snatched away from me within about five minutes.

I was seated next to a 15 year old girl who in her own words said “I only have one brain cell in my head so I won’t be able to do this.” At first this would have really angered me and made me think she was just lazy, but as I carried on watching the lesson, my opinion changed.

This young girl was fairly obsessed with the way she looked and she put on a voice that made her sound about five. And I realised that it was really all an act. She had learnt that she was ‘thick’ and would never amount to much and putting on this persona protected her from the pain she would feel if she actually showed that she cared and then failed.

And when I started to see this, my heart broke for her. I wondered who had told her that she only had one brain cell; whether it was a teacher or a parent? If anything, it made me angry at the people who had conditioned her to feel this. I could see past her bad behaviour, and what I saw was a really horrible back story.

I then started to think about all of the times that I may have done the same thing. It’s always done subconsciously, as I think was the case with this girl. I just sometimes feel safer, destroying my chances rather than watch myself try properly and fail.

I thought of all those times that I’d gotten myself stressed and signed off from work, and every time that I had handed in my notice because I thought that my boss hated me. Who knows where I would be if I hadn’t self sabotaged every time things got tough?

I don’t know if I’ll ever be in class with that girl again, but I hope that somebody steps in one day soon and tells her that she has lots to offer the world. She doesn’t need to hide behind that ditzy persona because she can take on the world, just like everyone else.

Much Love

Rachel xx

possibly the scariest thing on the whole entire planet

business care clean clinic
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Those sounds that echo through the halls,

Reminding us of what’s to come.

The drill,

The chisel,

The screams of agony.

And then they call your name.

You walk so rigid,

The bluish ghost that floats in front

Leads you down your dark green mile…..

Yep, I had to deal with the scariest thing out there today. I had to go to the dentist. When I was doing my ultramarathon last month, my tooth just chipped away and I have been in agony for at least the past two weeks.

I put it off for as long as I could but I finally plucked up the courage and booked an appointment.

I sat in the waiting room, nervously, as dentists in blue scrubs and masks whisked by in a flurry of activity. I felt sick as I sat waiting for my name to be called.

When it was called I felt like I was walking the green mile. I was a dead lady walking. And so I followed the dentist to her room and seated myself in her torture chair.

I was handed a pair of red safety goggles which actually had the effect of making me feel as though I was in actual Hell. I sat back and waited for the bad news.

She confirmed that it was decaying and I’d probably have to lose the tooth, so I agreed and she set to work. Unfortunately, my tooth had become infected and the pain in my ear was so great that I couldn’t help but scream as she tugged at my poor tooth.

In the end I had to leave the surgery with my mouth heavily anesthetized and a temporary filling plugging the gap. I have been prescribed a course of antibiotics and now I have to see an oral surgeon which sounds even more terrifying.

I arrived at school after a good cry in my car, with blood and drool dripping down my chin, all ready to teach…..sort of.

I bet your day was no worse than mine.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i seem to have a bit of a thing for orange themed books

I don’t normally do book reviews on my blog but reading is one of my most favouritest past times and this is my space to express myself, so why the fuck not?

I tend to read 50+ books a year so I have lots of material to choose from when I am deciding which is my favourite.

I’ve just finished a book that I really loved and it’s probably shot into my top 3 of the year so far. The book is Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce and it’s a thriller (my absolute favourite genre, sorry not sorry).

I read some of the reviews on Goodreads and a lot of them were saying that it was really predictable and boring but I beg to differ. I find this a lot though and it puts me off relying on reviews. Art and writing is subjective so it’s impossible to say that I won’t like something that you adore.

The funny thing is that while I was away on holiday in the Norfolk Broads I picked up a book from a charity shop in Norwich. I had never heard of it but it was blurbed as being ideal for fans of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (biggest fan right over here, thanks very much).

So I purchased this book on a whim and I whiled away the hours reading this book called Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller. It was the most perfect holiday read and I just loved how dark it was.

I’d highly recommend either of these books if you’re looking for something good to read. But it just made me chuckle that my two favourite books so far this year are very orange.

My next reads will probably have to include Clockwork Orange, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and Orange is the New Black. Any other orangey recs will be greatly appreciated.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the little gifts that the universe sends our way every now and then….

In a sea of grey and rolling fog

There comes a lamp that burns so bright.

We should be stumbling through the dark,

But we find a light to cheer,

A gift that’s unexpectedly

Placed in hands that need a gentle lift.

I’ve always struggled with anxiety. Before we had the internet and I even knew what ‘anxiety’ was, I would literally be vomiting with nerves whenever I was doing a swimming gala. I didn’t know what was wrong with me but I knew that something wasn’t right. Back then I was just told that I needed to learn to control my nerves; like I could just give myself a good telling off and everything would be fine.

But now that we live in a world where mental health is talked about much more openly, I know that I was suffering from quite severe anxiety. And I now know that there are lots of ways to help me feel a bit better.

These techniques don’t take away all of my worries, but they do ease the stress that I can sometimes feel. And mindfulness is one of the best practices that I have come across.

The most successful forms of mindfulness take me out into nature where I feel most at ease. There is something so soothing about being away from bright office strip lights and the buzz of computers.

And Autumn is my favourite time to be out in nature. There is something about the colours and the chill in the air that just makes everything feel so perfect. If I’m ever going to get my camera out, it’ll be at this time of year to take pictures of the trees.

So, when I saw the picture of this Gingko tree in China I absolutely fell in love. It is possibly one of the most beautiful things that I’ve ever seen. I think that it’s the fact that it stands out so much in its surroundings that makes me love it so much.

Whenever I see something that looks so incongruously beautiful, I am convinced that it must be a gift from God and I’ve really learned to savour it. Whether it be a pretty leaf or a whole field of poppies, I often find my breath is taken away.

I urge you to get out this autumn and have a look at the colours. If you have any Forestry Commission areas near you then you would do well to go for a walk there and just appreciate how lucky you are.

We may have had a bit of a crappy year but we have so much around us to be grateful for and I think that nature is one of the few things that can remind us of this.

Much Love

Rachel xx

they’re a group of little world changers

woman in black long sleeve dress standing on brown concrete pathway
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So small in stature, staring up at me,

Hands raised high with raw enthusiastic joy.

I’ll never know where life will take their little souls

But still they’re full of such potential,

And me, I have the chance to shape that road

And help them change the world.

I am watching a lot of TeacherTube videos on YouTube at the moment. It’s amazing how engrossed you can become in a subject when you begin to study it. I am practically living and breathing education and it doesn’t bother me one bit.

However, the reason that I wanted to write this little post is because I was watching one of these videos made by a really amazing primary school teacher in the north of England. She was talking about her class and she described them as her ‘class of thirty little world changers’.

The phrase just jumped out at me because it summed up exactly why I wanted to teach in just a few words.

In theory, every child is born with that inbuilt ability to do something great. The things that they go through after that moment will then shape them and set in motion what they will achieve in life.

As a teacher, I am sure that it must feel like such a privilege to play such a huge part in that shaping. And I love that the teacher I was watching sees all of her students in that way. Every child can be saved, or turn a corner or be pushed on just that little bit further.

And wouldn’t it be amazing if a student you teach does go on to write the next Harry Potter series. Wouldn’t it be great if just one great lesson that I deliver is the thing that sticks in their mind and spurs them on to greatness.

I know that it’s not about us bathing in the glory of students’ achievements, but it’s pretty amazing to think that we have the power to shape the future.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i’m thinking that i’ll need a whole new wardrobe

assorted clothes
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Why weren’t we born with polar furs?

Or scales that change with scenery?

Instead I need a skirt for work

A shirt for bed

And shoes for nightly jogs through rainy streets.

My life was so simple up until the beginning of September this year. I wore my sporty clothes when I went out running and I wore pyjamas to chill at home. I had a pair of jeans to venture out into the real world in, and these were teamed up with one of the few hoodies that I have stashed in my wardrobe.

As far as work was concerned, I’ve always worked in retail or hospitality or leisure and so I’ve never had to wear my own clothes. In my last job I wore a uniform that consisted of a polo shirt and fleece that I wore with my own black trousers and a pair of safety shoes provided by the company.

The trousers that I wore were the cheapest, nastiest pair of trousers I could find in Primark. However, they were one of my few ‘smart’ items of clothing.

This was made worse by the fact that I left my mum’s house with only a suitcase full of clothes so there wasn’t much room for dresses and heels in that case.

So, when I started working in the school and I had to wear something nice every day….well……that wasn’t happening.

I have been hitting the charity shops because I am not too proud for people’s cast offs. I actually love the buzz of going to a charity shop and just rummaging. And when you find something amazing you feel like a boss lady. My top tip is to go to rich areas because you get all the best labels dropped off by the rich residents.

I am learning to rotate and mix and match like a pro but every time I walk past a nice shop in town, I am like a moth to the a flame. I’m not even a shopping and clothes kinda girl. But I look at all of those mannequins looking oh so glamorous with their gorgeous clothes, I even forget that they are missing their heads.

One day I will be able to go into shops like French Connection and Phase Eight and walk out looking like Kate Middleton, but for now I will stick with people’s sloppy seconds. At least it means that I’m not wearing the same shirt for five days in a row.

Much Love

Rachel xx

junk emails

I pick through inbox rubbish

Weeding out the worthy princes

Asking for my savings to

Be sent to bank accounts

In Africa, it’s fine,

I’ll get a million back.

And then there’s ads

For pills delivered to my door

And hats for cats

And other curiosities

That I’ll never need.

And then I scroll down to your name

And see the subject line.

I’ve read those words a thousand times:

It’s me, not you,

I’ll miss you more

Than you’ll ever know.

i’m pretty sure that affirmations work…..sort of

grayscale photo of people raising their hands
Photo by Shelagh Murphy on Pexels.com

I’ll chant those words just one more time

Until they’re printed on my brain.

I’ll never know if they’re the truth

But if they move me on to fields

Greener than the ones today,

I’ll chant some more

And see where I will go.

A couple of years ago I went to a Christian festival called New Wine. It’s a week in camping accommodation, just completely surrounded by worship and people who really love God.

At this point I would like to say that I am a Christian but I do have a bit of an up and down relationship with God. I would also like to say that I’m also at my happiest when I’m feeling that my faith is strong, so take from that what you will.

Anyway, I went to this festival and I loved every minute of it. And on one of the days I went to a talk in a little marquee. It was a brilliant talk and at the end we were asked to stand up, close our eyes and repeat after the speaker. We chanted lots of affirmations about how we were worthy and loved in the eyes of God.

I felt a bit self conscious while we were doing it, but by the end of it I had the strangest sense of peace and love. I’ve always been intrigued by things like The Secret and what power we have within ourselves and this got me thinking a bit.

My mother was a really negative force in my life and everything seemed to collapse with her whispering in my ear. She was negative because she didn’t want to see me fail and to hurt, but at what cost? Did her love actually crush me into half the person I was supposed to be?

Now I try to repeat those positive affirmations and it does have some power. Whether it’s a mystical power that depends on vibrations, or it’s just a psychological switch that gets flicked, I don’t know. But I do know that there’s something in it.

I’d love to know about other people’s experiences with positive affirmations and meditation and prayer. Has it made a difference in your life? Has it brought you good things? Or is that not what it’s about for you? For me, it’s just about feeling like a whole person who has purpose and has love in their life. And that’s all that any of us can hope for, really.

Much Love

Rachel xx

uncoordinated

photo of vehicle on asphalt road
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The feet, they work in harmony

And hands can also do their tasks

With simple ease and accuracy.

But put the two together then

They lose their usefulness.

They flail about without control

And no matter what the brain may do

I feel that it will never find

A way to bring the pair as one

To do what others do with ease.

When I was learning to drive I was absolutely awful at clutch control. As soon as I mastered that, I paid for my test and passed on the first attempt. But that first few months were a real struggle and I spent some time thinking that I would never master the skill.

My problem was that I had no bloody co-ordination. I thought about what my hands were doing and ended up forgetting what my feet were doing and vice versa.

And I have found that I am having the same issues while learning to teach. I would concentrate on one element and then realise I had let another one slip. So then I would quickly change tack and address the problem only for the other thing to go down the toilet.

Normally I would have panicked that I was never going to get it, but this time I’m really embracing the challenge and working at it, just as I did with my driving. And you know what? I’m starting to get it.

I’m still really early on so I probably am really crap, but I’m noticing improvements in the way that I handle things. It feels like the muscle memory is improving and I have to concentrate less on some things, freeing up some brain power to experiment with other things.

I know in my heart that I will get this eventually. I need to stop worrying about not being perfect on the first attempt and enjoy the process of seeing myself improve. After all, it’s pretty bloody exciting!

Much Love

Rachel xx