no returns and no refunds

I’ve ordered several things I do not want

Or like.

There was the coat that was too tight,

It’s plastic zipper straining at the seams.

The waffle maker breaking on day one,

And the shoes I never wore.

I could have sent them back,

Got my refund,

Tried out something else.

But now that I have something that I really hate,

Something none of us can send back in the post,

I wonder how I’ll deal with that?

I can’t stuff this one in a closet,

Close the doors and try forgetting that it’s there.

This, I have to hold on to,

I have to see it through,

Make friends with it.

It’s hard to love a thing that terrifies our human soul,

But sometimes it is necessary

For us to learn,

To grow,

And change our ways that went unquestioned

For longer than they should.

let’s all give our heroes a big round of applause (tonight at 8pm)

We read it in the history books,

About the day they stepped outside

And sang as one to toast the loved

Who’d helped us through the tougher times.

They opened doors and windows,

Peeping out from bright lit halls.

The sound they made was that of angel song.

It drifted through the clear Spring air,

Until it reached the hospitals and shops,

The places where the people worked

To keep the nation going.

Tonight at 8pm the British public are being asked to step outside their houses and clap for the people who are keeping the nation running in this time of crisis. There are, of course, our wonderful NHS workers who are working at the forefront of it all. But there are also the food manufacturers, the delivery drivers, the shop workers and a myriad of other people still working hard.

I think it’s a bit of a shame that I haven’t seen this spread around a bit more because I think that lots of people would love to show their appreciation. And in a time when we are all feeling really isolated, it is an opportunity for us all to feel united in something safely.

I don’t know if any of you have watched any of the videos that are circulating at the moment but the ones that show thousands of people leaning from their balconies and singing together are the ones that give me chills. They are so powerful.

My favourite of them all is one that I saw yesterday. A little girl in the UK was celebrating her birthday and obviously couldn’t have people over so the neighbours all came out onto their doorsteps and hung out of their windows to sing happy birthday. The whole street appeared to join in and it was such a beautiful moment that I’m sure she’ll remember for the rest of her life.

I know I only have a teeny, tiny following of a few hundred but I just want to do my bit and ask you to spare the time to go out and clap and cheer at 8pm, tonight (Thursday 26th March). Hopefully, if nothing else, it will lift the spirits of the people in your tiny part of the world.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the art gallery PHENOMENON #poetry #virus

Drifting round the silent rooms

It was the battle scene

That stopped me in my tracks.

Had that artist seen something,

A glimpse into the future world

Where desperate people cling for life

And turn there faces up to God

In hope that anyone can hear their cries.

I passed the painting with a shrug

And only now I feel the fear

That danced across the canvas wall

That seemed like just a window in

To worlds that never would or should

Collide with mine right here and now.

I remember going to the National Gallery quite often when I lived in London. We are very lucky to have museums in our capital that are free and they were great to visit on days off when I was feeling a bit frazzled. The art galleries were always the nicest as they were so quiet and calming.

However, this post isn’t about how to keep calm in times of stress (you can’t go to a museum anyway, because they’re all closed!!!). This is about those big battle scenes that you often see in the museums.

I would always stop and stare at the huge scenes, trying to take in every detail. They are kind of like Ye Olde Where’s Wally scenes and you can spend hours picking out all of the details. I used to look at all of the wide eyed men perishing on the field and wonder what these artists used to see when they closed their eyes. I had never seen war before so I didn’t know if it was an accurate depiction.

Although it had a lasting effect on me I would just shrug and move on. And that is very much what I had done with the virus until the last week. I had watched what was happening in China and just shrugged it off. I felt awful that people were dying, but I saw it as another world and one that I would never have to inhabit.

It’s only now that we have been hit by it that I understand how awful it is. I know this sounds really selfish but I’m sure that this is the way that most people think. It has made me feel bad about the way that I view the world and I hope that this awful situation helps us all to have a change of heart.

We now need to stop staring at the news like it’s a painting. We need to actively engage with each other and help where possible. This is the time when service to others is going to be more important than ever. We are all human beings and I have started to try to think less that as long as I’m OK it doesn’t matter about anyone else.

Make sure that you do stay safe and love each other. We’re lucky to have technology on our side so reach out and make sure your loved ones are OK.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

for such a time as this

The poets and the artists,

And those that give us

The music and the lyrics

In our favourite songs,

These are the people

Who seem to have been born

For such a time as this.

I went to a talk about Queen Esther in the Old Testament a couple of years ago and once again it was something that really stuck with me. The lady giving the talk spoke about the famous phrase that is often quoted from this book, for you were born for such a time as these.

She spoke of how it didn’t mean this was a good time for Esther, but that she could do something for her people and she was the only person who could do it. She was quite literally born for the moment.

It feels like it rings true now. Some of the people who don’t make heaps of money and can be looked down on a bit sometimes, these are the people who are rising to the top and helping society in unprecedented times.

All of the arty people are really useful now because people are scared and lonely and it is poetry, books, movies and music that are going to help them through.

These people aren’t born for this moment to profiteer from it, they are born for this moment so that they can reassure people, they can entertain them and make them feel human again.

So, if you are an artist of any kind, think how you can use your skills in these strange days ahead. You are among the people who will record what has happened and keep the spirits up of all the people out there.

Stay safe and look after each other,

Much Love,

Rachel xx

the shock of the fall

The shock of the fall

Is much worse than the impact.

Bones shattering on cold concrete

Once sounded enough

To grind teeth in disgust.

Now we almost look forward,

To that sudden jar of stars.

We think it will be sweet release

From this endless downward rush.

I remember when I was in Year 11 which was way back in the Y2K, we read an extract in our English class. It was about an old man who just wanted to go out for a walk in a society where everyone was ordered to stay inside.

I think the fact that I love walking was the reason that this piece of writing stuck with me over all these years. It scared me that there could ever come a time when police would make us return to our homes. I thought for almost twenty years that it was too ridiculous to ever really happen. And then the year 2020 happened.

But it’s the shock of it actually happening that is the hardest thing to deal with. That piece of writing obviously had an effect on me because I remember it from 20 years ago. But as time has marched on, travel has become more common and it just seemed ridiculous that I would see such a thing in my life time.

This has come so quickly, and so ‘out of the blue’ that it’s taken me by surprise and made me feel really anxious. I am quite comfortable living in my flat with food and electricity so it’s no real hardship just yet. It’s the free falling and seeing how quickly things are changing that have done me the most damage.

If you are like me, and thrive on routine, I’m sure that you are also suffering. Just stay calm and remember that in this very moment you are fine. You are alive and hopefully well. We have no real control over what is happening so we just have to go with it. The panic comes in the struggle against the fall.

Something beautiful has to come out of the train wreck that we are witnessing at the moment. We need to all love each other and be responsible and we will get to the other side.

Much Love

Rachel xx

An ode to the shelf stacker

Yesterday I felt embarrassed

To tell the world what job I did.

I dreaded when they asked

I hated puckered, disappointed faces

When I said that I stacked shelves.

*

Today I’m feeling rather proud.

Today I am a cog, an important one

That helps the country lurch along

In desperate and uncertain times.

*

Those people who were so judgemental,

Now they breathe a sigh of beautiful relief

When they see the store is open,

When they see that they can buy

The things they need to stay alive.

*

So never twist your face in mock disgust

When a person does their best.

There may just come a dark and deadly day

When you’re the one with little use

And the lowly stacker of the shelves

Becomes the hero of the day.

My name is Rachel and I work in a petrol station. I was an A grade student at school and I have a handful of degrees but that doesn’t seem to have helped me in my career.

And I spent a long time feeling really embarrassed that I was only doing a job that I could have done without any qualifications. I had the look of scorn from old school friends whenever they came into the store and it really did dent my confidence.

But it sometimes takes a huge crisis to realise that you’re not as useless as you thought you were. All of a sudden, the person working as a Marketing Director isn’t really needed. When everyone is scrabbling for food and work and hoping to stay alive, status will do very little for you.

The sad thing is that it shouldn’t have taken the virus for me to realise my worth. I am in work and contributing to society. I pay taxes and National Insurance. I am a single mother and bringing up my son is an important job in itself.

So what if I stack shelves for a living. And so what if you’re not proud of where you are in life as far as your career is concerned. Just make sure that you are being a nice person and serving the world as best you can.

Much Love

Rachel xx

too big to understand

I want to open up my mind

Like ribbons falling from a gift,

But once unfurled and spread across the floor,

The pattern scattered over knees

And tiny human feet

Is complicated,

Kaleidoscopic,

Shifting each and every time

I think I’ve got a grip.

No, better not to even try.

Put the present back where found

But think about it all the time.

The God question came up in conversation today and I felt like it was something that I wanted to talk about because it is so interesting. I believe in a Christian God, but I really had to sit down and think about what a Christian God is.

I have a lot of friends who are agnostic and believe that God is nature or something similar. They are dead against organised religion, but interestingly, they do need something bigger than themselves to lean on.

Today, I spent a bit of time thinking about this and how God can be different things to different people, when He seems to have a positive impact on these people, regardless.

I think that this is because our minds are just too narrow to comprehend what God really is. We have to make our own version so that He fits in with what we can understand. I think that if a being created everything in the universe it is impossible for us to understand what that being may be like because we don’t even know how it all started or where it will end. My brain goes to mush just thinking about it.

I hope that you all have something to believe in during this strange and scary time. It really helps to feel like there is a loving presence that is in your corner and that has a listening ear in times of trouble.

Much Love

Rachel xx

glimmer

there’s always a glimmer

of hope in every day,

even when the world tells you

that you need to be slimmer,

your light needs to be a bit dimmer,

need to be a goddamn winner.

I can’t be half these things,

but I know for sure

that there’s always gonna be a glimmer

of hope.

We’re going through a bit of a rocky patch at the moment and it’s all doom and gloom every time we switch on the TV. It’s enough to put anyone in a dark place because it’s downright scary.

But, we have to remember that in any bad situation there will always be a glimmer of hope. There will always be some good news somewhere, or something to make you smile. And we need to hang onto this tightly.

I interviewed for a new job on Thursday and they rang me back within a couple of hours and offered me the role. It was so exciting and it offered me that little bit of hope. I hope that there are some good things that are going on for you to help you through these tough times.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

nasty case of FOMO

The man at the gates, at the end of my life

Looked at his list and then looked at me.

Why are you here? he asked, seriously.

You haven’t yet done the most important of things.

What could that be? I asked, earnestly.

I’ve worked and I’ve travelled

And I’ve ticked off my goals.

But those allowed in are only those souls

That did the most perfect of things.

What can be greater than all I have done?

I’ve achieved all my hopes and magical dreams.

Ah, but you haven’t felt love, said the man.

You’ve shut yourself off through hurt and through fear

And not let one person see the real you.

And until you have done this

You’ve only had a life that has been half lived.

I have steered away from relationships all of my life. I know that it is mostly out of fear and I think that is really sad. I hear other people talk about love as though it is magical and intoxicating and I can’t help but wonder if I would embrace the feeling too, if only I could let down my barriers enough to let it in.

I just hope that I don’t get to the end of my life and find that I’ve wasted it in some way, just because I was too scared to let in the most important part of it. I mean, if love makes the world go round, then my world must be pretty stagnant at the moment.

I hope that any people out there that are struggling with this fear can start to chip away at the walls because I’m sure we are all missing out. And I don’t know about you but I’m starting to get a nasty case of FOMO.

Much Love

Rachel xx

coping badly with change

Do you remember those days as kids,

Welly boots on and wading through streams

With fishing nets slung over shoulders

And minnows in washed up jam jars?

I never thought for a moment back then

That life would be changed with age.

We’d all just remain at that innocent stage

And never be worried by bills or break ups

Or casual flings and steamier make ups.

But life is not life without constant change

And if you’re not willing to bend, you break.

So I’m limbering up for the next big surprise

Because change is best suited to the fittest

And only the fittest survive.

I put my hand up and freely admit that I am terrible when it comes to accepting change. I love routine and as soon as somebody tells me I need to change something it completely unbalances me.

There is no problem with liking routine, but it does become a problem when change is frightening (which it can be for me). I’m always convinced that the change has been introduced to catch me out and get me into trouble.

I’m sure there must be loads of people out there who find it as crippling as I do and I can sympathise with you wholeheartedly. It makes world situations almost impossible because every time a new manager comes in they want to ‘shake things up’ or ‘put their own stamp on the place.’

I know how important being open to change is to live a normal and productive life, so I do really push myself to embrace it. It’s easier said than done, but I’ve had lots of changes happen over the last six months and I’ve (sort of) handled them ok.

My point is that in nature it is the species that adapt to change that survive the best, so it makes sense for us humans to be open to change. It’s often that first step into the unknown that’s the hardest and once you’ve done that you find yourself looking back and wondering what all the fuss was about.

We’re all in this together and most people only try new things to improve the world; not make it worse. So exercise a little bit of trust and join me in giving some of these new things a go. You never know, we might just enjoy ourselves!

Much Love

Rachel xx