every little thing is gonna be ok

I’m worrying far too much. About people, about money, about health, about the world. Sometimes it hurts to even turn the TV on. After turning off the news I sit staring at the black screen for several minutes, just taking in deep lungfuls of air. The pictures are enough to terrify even the most hardened of people.

Perhaps I should just stop watching altogether. All I want to do is curl up under my blankets and close my eyes because tomorrow can only be worse. But who am I to make that judgement? I have no idea what is around the corner, so for now I will put on my running shoes and get out into the rain. I’ll feel the wind on my face and I’ll feel truly alive. Because the weight of the world is heavy and I can’t possibly take it on all by myself. For now I will just take it one day at a time and enjoy the fact that I’m OK today.

Repeat that again: I am OK today. I have so much to celebrate and be thankful for. Let the burdens of tomorrow stay where they belong.

Sweet Dreams

Rachel xx

5 reasons it’s important to speak your truth

I’m obsessed with pleasing people and as a result I tend to dance around a topic without ever getting to the point. It’s just so hard to be direct and speak my truth, knowing that it MIGHT upset someone. Anyone else have this problem? Anyone else a people pleaser to a fault?

Because it’s something that I’ve really struggled with, Proverbs 27:17 jumped out at me and almost knocked me out with its power. It was randomly picked out at a recent talk that I went to and it felt like I was just meant to take that verse and meditate on it for a little while this week.

How can people pleasing become a problem?

My biggest problem area when it comes to people pleasing is at work. I get so scared that my boss or my colleagues are going to hate me that I refrain from making comments or asking for things that I need. I worry that if my boss takes offence to a request I make then he may start to make my life hell.

I know that a lot of this stems from issues that date back to my childhood and actually have very little to do with my current boss. But the fact remains that I still get anxious about speaking my truth when it might not go down well. This means that I often get lumped with shifts that I really can’t do or doing tasks that I don’t feel equipped to carry out. I just muddle through it all to keep the peace.

What can Proverbs 27:17 teach us?

Proverbs 27:17 reads ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another’. In some translations the line reads ‘so a friend sharpens a friend’ or something to that effect.

This could be understood to be quite a brutal verse as it conjures up the image of an axe being sharpened (not something I normally want to practice on a friend)! However most people actually tend to read it in a much more positive light, and being the author of a blog about patience and kindness, I choose to read it in this light too!

So how is this positive?

It is positive if we view ourselves as the axe that NEEDS sharpening to make us better people. Even if the sharpening process is quite brutal it is something that will make us more useful to others because we are no longer dull and blunt. It hints at the fact that friends have the ability to sharpen us in this way because they can practice tough love on us. Being tough on us is OK because we know that their intentions are good and the outcome will only make us better.

This, in turn, means that we must speak our truth if we are going to get the full benefit of this sharpening process. If we pussy foot around the issues that are on our hearts, not really getting to the point, then our friends can’t shape us. We will miss the opportunity to get their opinion and form a more balanced view of the world.

So, as promised, here are five reasons why we must make sure that we say what we really think:

  • It holds us accountable. If we tell people about all the things that we want to do then there will always be somebody there to support us and push us along when the going gets tough.
  • It encourages us to be vulnerable. I adore the teachings of Brene Brown and I truly believe that showing our vulnerabilities is the way to true forward motion in society. Speaking your truth is scary because it opens you up to all kinds of hurt and criticism, but it can also deepen relationships and help you to grow as a human being.
  • It will make you a stronger person in the face of criticism. Once you have spoken your truth and had people disagree with it a few times you’ll feel far less sensitive about it going forward. If we want success in life we need to be able to withstand the bullies out there that are going to laugh and poke fun at our hopes and dreams.
  • It sets out boundaries. This is what I need to improve in my work situation. The more I practice this sharpening of my blade and saying that I can’t do something despite the shame I feel about it, the less and less I will be taken advantage of. At the moment I’m seen as a soft touch and the manager knows that I’ll say yes to anything he gives me.
  • It makes us shinier, or less dull. This can only help us glorify God because the shinier we are, the more people will look and the more they will want to follow our example.

I hope that you, too, can use this verse to make yourself more confident in voicing your feelings, thoughts and needs. Remember that the striking of the axe might seem like a violent act but it makes it more useful. The axe doesn’t get hurt in the process, it just becomes better at it’s job.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

Is pain actually a wonderful gift?

It goes without saying that to be human is to feel pain. You can’t go through life without taking a few knocks and some of them can bring you to your knees. But can those really difficult times actually be the best thing that can happen to us? Is it really a gift and we just need to wait it out and see what really can come from it?

My most painful memories come from 2016 when I was literally brought to my knees by alcohol. At the time, I was working at a job I loved and with people I loved. But my heart was ruled by fear and the only way to get through my days was to drink to excess. At the time I knew that I was drinking far too much but I would have been horrified to be described as an alcoholic. But things were about to change and it was about to happen with a bang.

There was an incident at work that made me look like a horrible person and that was the one thing that was going to crush me more than anything else in the world. I was accused of being nasty and I was told that I was in trouble. Actually I was just a scared and fragile person. I was so crushed after this incident that I ended up taking some time off work and my mental health was at an all time low.

I went for help from the doctor but I was honest about my drinking and so I was denied any help. I was terrified and alone. My work family had kicked me to the curb and the health profession were not helping. I literally thought I was going to die as I sank lower and lower.

But somewhere deep inside me there was a fighting spirit that wasn’t going to give up. I knew that the only way I was going to get back up on my feet was to quit the drinking and I knew that I couldn’t get that done alone. I had tried before and failed. So I took myself along to several different groups where people like me could sit and talk about drink and what it had done and where life could take us once we had put down the bottle.

I also took myself off to my local church. I don’t know what it was that made me get up that Sunday and go, but I did. And then it transpired that there was an Alpha course beginning the very next week so I got a crash course in what it is to be Christian right off the bat. It was as though everything was lined up for me.

I’m now almost three years sober and I was baptised earlier this year. It would be laughable to say that life is all rainbows and sunshine now, but I have remained sober and I have found something in my life that is bigger than me. This keeps me grounded and loving towards my fellow brothers and sisters here on Earth. It also means that I am much healthier and I can be a better mother and look forward to seeing my son get married and have children of his own. I would have been lucky to make it to forty before 2016 happened.

And this gift is all because of that bad thing that happened. It was the worst moment in my life to be pulled into that office at work and to have my character pulled to pieces. Whether those words were fair or not, I could never really know. But that horrific moment was the catalyst in getting me well and giving me all that have now. I needed that kick and that pain to get me started. The softly, softly approach had never worked and this was God’s way of putting me on the right path.

I would love to know if anybody else has had similar experiences, where something painful has given rise to something amazing. I feel like those awful moments are the ones that mould us and shape us so that we are ready for the good things that are coming our way. So ride it out, pray hard and remember that sunnier weather is on its way.

I don’t like you any more…

I’m starting to notice that all of my posts have really horrible titles that make me sound like a bitch if you don’t read on. Perhaps there’s something going on there subconsciously…

But anyway, I have been thinking a little bit about lost friends today. Not friends that I’ve really had a fight with, but those that maybe have a different life now and have therefore drifted away. It’s those ones that I always feel the most sad about losing and it’s made worse these days by the bane of everyone’s life, also known as social media.

When I was at school I had a really small and tight knit group of friends and we did everything together. I loved them more than anything because I’m an INFP and I get attached to anything that has a pulse shows me love. But when I was eighteen I was going through a difficult time in college and so I dropped out and moved to London. I was really lost and confused and being a bit of a dick to everyone around me because the truth of the matter was that I was terrified of where my life was going.

I think that my friends hoped that they could save me from myself but I knew better and after a few months of being in London the phone calls and visits started to dry up and before I really even knew that it was happening, they were gone. At the time, I was so angry and scared that my first reaction was to tell them to go fuck themselves because that made me look as though I didn’t care and that it was me that was in control of the situation.

I drifted on through life and got married, had a baby and got divorced all before the age of twenty two and I really found myself in a very lonely and dark place. And then along came Facebook.

At first I thought that the Book of Face was the most amazing thing to ever have been invented. It offered me a window into the lives of people I knew and as an introvert, this was great because I could stalk people without talking to them or ever leaving the house. But then I clicked on these old friends and saw that they were still together, just without me.

I’ve never felt such a pang of hurt and resentment as when I scrolled through endless photos of them all together at birthday parties and weddings. It hurt to know that they weren’t sad I was gone; they were thriving as a group.

Throw into the mix, the fact that I was struggling with alcoholism at this point, and you have the perfect storm. I remember totally humiliating myself by sending one of them a ranty message when drunk, explaining exactly why I thought she was a nasty piece of work for excluding me from their circle.

Looking back I can’t hep but hang my head in shame but it just goes to show how much it hurts when friends drift away. But it also got me thinking that perhaps there is always a reason for it happening. It could just be as simple as the fact that interests change and that means you can’t help but drift away. I had a baby and these girls were career women. We had nothing in common any more so if I were to hang around with them we would probably bore each other to death.

But sometimes you get to see a little further in and you realise that actually the reason you drifted apart could have been a matter of life and death. I got the opportunity to speak to one of the girls in the group recently. One of them had got married and the rest had been her bridesmaids which hurt to hear about in itself! BUT, this girl told me that they decided to have a competition between the bridesmaids to see who could lose the most weight in the lead up to the wedding. When I heard this my blood ran cold. If I’d have been included in this ‘game’ I’d have completely gone off the rails. I’d have probably ended up in hospital trying to starve myself if I’d taken apart in their little bit of fun. To them it was nothing but it made me realise that the way these people behave would be really damaging to me and perhaps me being pulled away from them was a way of being saved from myself. God had stepped in again and kept me safe when I wouldn’t have been able to do it myself.

It never ceases to amaze me how frequently this happens with something that is deeply upsetting to me turning out to be the best thing that could have happened. It’s always important for me to keep in mind during hard times that there is a God and I don’t know what strings are being pulled behind the scenes. Things that feel like they are weakening me are actually working to strengthen me and I will only see that further down the line when the dust has settled.

These women aren’t bad or horrible in any way but that had to happen to save me from harm and to strengthen me as a person. It’s probably best summed up by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 when he writes ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’ My power of letting go of painful things has most definitely been made stringer in my weakness.

Much Love

Rachel xx

You are such a loser

I’ve learnt over the past few years that sometimes winning at life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and if somebody tells me that I’m a loser I’m far more inclined to say thank you very much.

I don’t say this because I want to be unsuccessful at everything I do in life, but because I really do believe that all of the best successes in the world are built upon countless failures. There is such a thing as getting lucky but these kind of successes are few and far between. The most common kind of success seems to come after countless failures on the part of the person that has just cracked it. The problem is that the rest of us only see the moment when everything falls into place.

I started thinking about this when I was looking for a new podcast to listen to and I came across a popular one called How To Fail. The idea behind it was to interview famous people about their past failures and how it has shaped their current career. Scrolling through the list of people who were interviewed from week to week, I saw that some of the people who I look up to the most were on there. These were people that I idolised and I’ve always felt like I could only hope for a fraction of their success in life. It made me realise how inclined we are to forget that people sometimes struggle for decades before they get their big break and we may never know about any of that long slog that went into getting there.

I have long hated the term ‘overnight success’ because I think that it compounds this idea that we can just make it big by luck, when this is very rarely the case. Even with shows like X Factor and the likes, the people on there have normally put in the groundwork if they are going to do well. The ones that haven’t are normally the ones that we all laugh at in the audition process because they come across as a little bit deluded.

And then you have to question what a person gets out of it if they just get success that is overnight. It’s the work that is put in that makes the success all the more sweet. I was a swimmer as a child and there were some exceptionally talented kids who didn’t put a whole lot of work in and it didn’t look as though they were all that chuffed when they won. I, on the other hand, had no natural talent, but I worked bloody hard and my little face would be lit up like I’d won the lottery even if I managed to scrape a bronze medal.

The process of losing also teaches you so much about yourself and how to get better at something. You often hear billionaire business owners say that they had ten plus businesses that failed before they hit the jackpot. The process of failing, not only taught them resilience, but it also gave them the chance to tweak the problems in earlier business models. Without the ten failed businesses that had come before it, their successful one may not have survived either. We need the people who are willing to experiment and potentially fail if we are to move forward as a human race.

And finally, the failure does make you a bit more human. I found that I really enjoyed the podcast because it was nice to hear these successful people talk about the times that they had fucked up. There are so many times in life that you feel like you’re banging your head up against a wall so it’s nice to know that they’ve felt this too. It makes for stories that are both entertaining and inspiring and that is quite heartwarming.

The bible is also quite clear on trying again and again even when you are afraid of failure. The overriding message that seems to shine through is that if it is to be used for good, then push on with it even if you are scared. There may be so many things that frighten you into backing away from your dreams but it is important to remember that God is with you and you have no need to be afraid if your heart is in the right place. It might feel like you have used up every last ounce of strength and it has ended in yet another failure but it is always possible to pick yourself back up again because as stated in Isaiah 40:31 ‘Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.’

So next time somebody tells you that your work is crap and that you’re a complete failure, just smile to yourself and go away and continue to work hard. You may have to try things in a completely new way but if you are working on something that you’re passionate about this shouldn’t be a problem. And if you try enough times, you never know, you might just become the next JK Rowling or Steve Jobs.

Much Love

Rachel xx

You’re doing it all wrong

How many times have you been told that what you’re doing is all wrong? I know that I have been told this my whole life and like a fucking twonk I’ve gone and listened to them.

I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to pursue a career in something creative so I stayed away from those subjects in college and that made me unhappy. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t enjoy reading thrillers or romance because that is trashy literature, so I stuck to more critically acclaimed work and bored myself to death. I was told that liking Britney Spears meant that I had no taste in music.

But who exactly is it that is making up all of these rules? There are tonnes of people out there who work as artists and writers and they make a perfectly decent living so why couldn’t I have tried for a career in that field? Sure, it might have been a bit risky in the beginning but at least I would have been doing something I enjoyed. Same thing goes for the music and the books that I read. There are tonnes of people out there who consume these things so why can’t I?

The difference between them and me is that they were willing to take that risk and possibly look silly. If somebody embarks on a career as an illustrator and then they don’t get a single client they may have to go and get that office job with their tail between their legs. But what if they do get one client? Are they willing to live on beans on toast for a month because they only have one client and not a lot of money? For most the answer will be yes. They won’t care that they have to struggle because they have the balls to stand up to everyone and say that what they are doing is fulfilling to them and they are willing to challenge themselves to achieve their goal.

Likewise the person who listens to Britney Spears without shame or reads a romance on the train without hiding the cover from fellow passengers, is the person who is getting the most out of life because they are the ones that are living their true authentic life.

And then you get people like me, who worry constantly about what people think and where I am going in life. I’ve always believed that there is a manual for life that I somehow missed receiving. I look at people in the street and wonder where they got their manual from and how they keep it together. But perhaps if I just marched to the beat of my own drum a little more then I would feel like I am in possession of a manual too.

I am an INFP personality type and I know that I struggle to go against the advice of people because I’m worried about upsetting people and causing them problems. But then I’m upsetting myself because I am naturally inclined to want to do things that are creative and childish and whimsical. Let’s face it, most INFPs are like five year old children stuck in an adult body; if we could dress in unicorn themed clothing we most definitely would!

I have heard a lot of talk about people accusing others of not reading the bible right and this really confuses me. We can apparently read the wrong books, listen to the wrong music and pursue the wrong dreams in life and now we’re being told that what we take away from our faith is wrong too. We are all so different and surely if we are going to be happy and fulfilled we should be allowed to see things from our own perspective without feeling any guilt.

The Bible is so open to interpretation that I think it’s impossible for anyone to stamp their authority on it, and I think that in doing so we are shutting out so many people who need to find love and compassion.

My favourite story was of a pastor going into a prison and speaking to inmates and they studied Matthew 21:12-13 where Jesus went into the temple and overturned the tables belonging to the merchants, setting free the doves that were being sold.

It was a fairly innocuous study session but one of the inmates was so moved that be broke down in tears. The pastor asked him why he had cried after the study and the inmate told him that he realised that following Jesus was going to set him free and he realised this because the doves had, in his mind, represented the speckled dove pills that he had sold as a drug dealer on the streets. Now, I doubt that many people interpret that passage in that way but this man did and it had such a profound effect on him that it changed his life. Surely that is the point in reading the bible and following Christ, right?

So next time somebody tells you that you’re doing it wrong think about whether you are or not. If you’re not hurting anyone and you are bringing yourself some sort of fulfilment then surely it’s right for you. If you want to make music but you have no rhythm, bang on that drum and have fun. If you want to create some art but you don’t know the difference between oils and acrylics, just do some finger painting and see what you come up with. The chances are that there will be someone out there who actually likes what you make so be weird and be really proud of it.

And the bible is just like any other piece of beautiful art. Your life and your history is going to colour what you take away from a reading of it. But, if you take away a message that is positive and good for the world around you then surely you’re entitled to that viewpoint, right?

Where did your pain come from?

I’ve started this blog so that I can make something nice, something that lifts people up. But I have noticed that there is nearly always something painful that has to happen in order for there to be that nice thing borne out of it. And it’s got me thinking what it is in my life that has spurred me on to at least try and create a nice space on the internet.

I’ve been watching some videos on Youtube recently and really zoned in on the ones that show people who have dealt with horrible things and come through fighting and made something good of it. The something good always seems to be completely different but the fact remains that there always is something good.

I have watched videos of people who have fought through cancer or lost relatives to the disease. I’ve seen people describe their fight with addiction and people who have endured painful family breakdowns and the stories that seem to resonate the most with the viewer is always the story where the person who has suffered has come out fighting and they’ve created something beautiful out of their pain.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a charity or anything as obvious as that. It could be something so small, but the very act of coming out the other end and telling your story is so powerful and you have no idea how helpful it may be to somebody else going through something similar.

I’ve been thinking back over the last decade of my life and there have been a few blows along the way. I have spoken briefly about my struggles with addiction but the thing that kind of kicked it off for me was the breakdown of my marriage when I had a nine month old baby and I was only twenty one years old.

I don’t normally like to talk about that time in my life but I felt like putting the words down in this blog might be of help to somebody else and wouldn’t it be great if I could help prevent somebody enduring a decade of alcoholism in the process?

So my story started when I went backpacking around South Africa aged nineteen. I was naive and pretty innocent and I got swept off my feet by a local when I was only two weeks into my trip. I thought this guy was gorgeous and he asked me to marry him after just a few months. We did marry and then I got terribly homesick and decided I needed to go home, leaving him behind. We had the plan for him to follow me over when his visa was sorted and we had some money saved so we could get a flat. However, the day I landed in England I went to the doctor and found out that I was five months pregnant!

It was all a crazy panic in the months that followed but my husband did make it over to England with just a few days to spare. The baby was born and I went back to work very quickly leaving the husband looking after the baby. Unbeknown to me, he started having and affair and it was a good six months before I found out.

Finding out that your trust has been broken in such a terrible way at such a young age was crushing and I don’t think I’ve ever really gotten over it. I’ve not had a relationship since and I find it really hard to trust men. I find it hard to accept any kind of attention from men because my brain seems to instantly associate them with that intense pain that I felt in the early days after the split.

The pain was so intense that cutting myself was the only way to dull it. I also took to starving myself and all manner of other kinds of bodily punishment followed. Anything to get rid of what I was feeling, and that ultimately led to alcohol.

I do wonder if I had had someone to confide in in those early days, would I have gone through so many years of hurt afterwards? If I could have been made aware that my pain was shared by every other human on the planet would I have felt less alone?

The answer is most definitely yes. I think that we need to share our stories of pain so that another young girl who gets hurt at the beginning of her adult life doesn’t lose her twenties entirely. Just because she thinks that she’s the only one feeling so intensely.

Can we all just be a little bit more open about our feelings and our stories. We don’t need to label it as depression or anything heavy like that, we just need to tell people that we were deeply distressed and in a dark place for a time. But we can also show that there is light at the end of the tunnel and give hope. Being left by a spouse at any age is heart wrenching and it would be nice if we could cultivate a space where we could talk about this kind of hurt without feeling like we’re telling some kind of sob story.

I truly believe that something good always comes from the hard times. There is always something that we can pass on to the next person who we see that is struggling. And we can all come together and share our stories to lighten the burden. My parting advice would be to sit with your pain, find others to help you through it and know that there is probably something good coming from it eventually, even if you can’t see it now. If you have any examples of things you’ve been through and how they’ve turned into something good or shaped you in a positive way then I would love to hear it.

Jesus replied “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will” – John 13:7

Much Love

Rachel xx

Does your job define you?

I don’t even think I can put into words how much this question has rolled around my mind during my twenties. And it’s been quite distressing because everything and everyone around me has been answering with a resounding YES!

But is this really true? It’s taken me a lot of soul searching and a lot of talking to other people to start to see that there may be another answer. I don’t want this post to be one of those that celebrates mediocrity and I definitely don’t want to come across as some kind of self help guru. Not that there’s wrong with either of these things, because I have always loved a self help book! Also, what’s wrong with being so-so at something? As long as you’re doing you best then nobody should give a damn. I’d far rather be mediocre at absolutely everything and be known as a nice person than be great at something and be an absolute bitch.

But your career or your job or whatever you want to call it is an important part of your life because you have to spend so much of your time doing it. And then there is also the fact that the amount of money you earn directly affects the kind of lifestyle you can live. So really there is no denying that it is all encompassing.

But should we really be thinking that people who work in a shop are less worthy as human beings than a person who works as a lawyer? My answer is absolutely not! Why should somebody who earns a fuck tonne of money be a better person? I think that we need to stop putting emphasis on money and put more on how well we do the job and how happy we are.

So, I do work in a shop and you might think that I’m being a little bit snarky because I’m not flying in the game of life. BUT, I do have an awesome work-life balance and I don’t dread going to my place of work. I LIKE the fact that if I put 100% effort in then I can leave feeling like I have contributed and made the world a little bit better because of it.

There are some times that a customer will come in and be a real pain in the ass and I can find that I need to bite my tongue so that I don’t say something that I might regret. But when I look past how annoying they are being and try to just put on a smile and be nice then I actually feel nicer inside. And it’s all for free. I don’t need to feel bad and angry and have that festering rage eating away at me. And shall I tell you what? If I continue to be nice until I have finished dealing with the person I normally get a bit of a smile out of them which is even nicer. Remember, we need to think about where other people are coming from. This person that you are dealing with may have had a shitty day and their bad mood has nothing to do with you. Give them a smile and you might be the thing that brightens their day.

But, once again, I’ve gone off piste a little bit. What I’m trying to say is that I can make a difference in how someone feels regardless of what I do. There are lawyers out there who find great joy in what they do and they love the fact that they can help people who are at their lowest in life and that is a beautiful thing. But isn’t it sad when somebody who works an amazing job for 100 hours a week is only doing it for money. I mean, what can you possibly be spending it on? A house that you never see and two weeks in a nice holiday destination? I’d rather stick with my job in a shop thanks.

So, I think what I’m really trying to say is that I think any job can be pretty cool if you use it in the right way. It’s all about what you do while you’re there, what you do when you’ve got free time, how happy you are and how you make others feel when you do that job. So it’s your actions that define you, not your job title.

It’s telling that Jesus spent most of his time in ministry with the people that were viewed as a bit scummy. It was the prostitutes and the tax collectors that he mingled with. And he constantly warned against being greedy and worrying too much about having money. I could provide you with hundreds of bible verses that touch on the subject but one that particularly springs to mind is:

The he said to them: Watch out! Be on your kind against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions – Luke 12:15.

So next time somebody looks down their nose at you because of your job, make sure that you just smile and be as nice as you can be. Because you are loving Jesus and looking after your fellow man by doing your very best. You are loved and wonderful and you deserve happiness just as much as the richest man in the world.

Much Love

Rachel xx