a walking contradiction

black spiral stair
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Black versus white

Should be desperately easy

To see the line of divide,

But over here in the shade

There are all kinds of grays

And soft, dusty lines.

One could say they’re pretty,

Others would say ugly,

Showing lack of direction

And a life that is wasted

On something not firm.

I always wonder if it’s ugly to speak and act in contradictions – because I know I do this all the time and I don’t think it’s particularly attractive.

I have this thing where I want to be good at sport, but refuse to train; I want a career and I can’t deal with the stress; I want a boyfriend but I don’t want to compromise.

I sometimes think that if my lines were less blurry I would be a much better human and perhaps I would have got a bit further along – whatever that means. It is comforting to know that there are others out there, just like me. They are jack of all trades and masters of none.

One day I’ll get my act together and be a master of something.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the dream job: costume maker

white dress on mannequin beside white sewing machine
Photo by Wallace Chuck on Pexels.com

The scissors glide through velvet cloth

Embroidered with a golden thred,

The picture of the Oscar actress pinned

Haphazardly, to the pinboard overhead.

She casts her smile, so Hollywood, so far

From this tiny workroom in a boring town.

No glitz of glamour here, but still

I feel the thread that holds us there,

Together as I let the needle run,

Pinning rich material to mannequins,

Until I’ve met the brief, a dress

Fit for queens or pirate’s daughters,

Perhaps a space cadet or fairy dream.

It takes it’s slow deliberate time,

But as it forms I know within my heart

That this is what I was meant to do.

I always wonder how many people out there actually do the job that they dream of. Not the job we tell people we wouldn’t mind doing, but the thing that is ridiculously outlandish; the job that most people would laugh at you for wanting to do.

My one would be a costume designer for the movies. I have always looked at the lavish costumes in movies like Titanic or Pirates of the Caribbean and thought how wonderful it must be to be involved in that.

And yes, there may be other more glamorous departments on a film set, but there is something very calming about cutting through material and sewing the patterns together. And knowing that your work is responsible for making the whole thing look so spectacular, I bet you get quite a high from that.

I’d just need to learn to sew and then I might be within a shot.

Much Love

Rachel xx

career advice for dummies

Apply, apply,

Type your life into databases,

Fill the spaces with your name, your date of birth,

Attend those interviews.

It won’t be you that sits and talks

For hours all about your strongest bits.

The real you sits so quietly,

Withering within your skin,

But you know promotion is

The way to make yourself a worthy one.

Without that money, without that status

What’s the fucking point?

We are entering our last week in our placement school, so we were given a talk this morning about career progression and what to expect as a teacher. The talk was given by our deputy head who is moving onto a headship in another school in September.

This guy is a legend in the school and respected by everyone. I would love to be like him, but as I sat and listened, I realised that I still have to be so careful.

I’m one of those people that can really ‘lose it’ if I get too stressed and yet it is still so easy for me to get carried away. It sounded so exciting, the idea of climbing the ladder and doubling my salary, but I always need to consider the cost.

This teacher did remind us that it was also important to just go with the flow, which I like. Letting go and just allowing life to take me is what I want to do. I sometimes feel like I’ll just float into the places and positions that I’m supposed to be in.

Much Love

Rachel xx

dropping the defensiveness

A wall that’s smashed with gentle hammers,

Loving every part of me.

It wasn’t good to concrete up

The soul, the ever swelling ego too.

I’ll let it out and hang my head,

Just glad to see the crumbled edges

Swimming into sight.

I still have a bit of a problem with being defensive and it has got me into loads of trouble and made me loads of enemies over the years. I’ve never wanted to hurt people, but I was desperate to save my own skin, so I’d quite happily point fingers to take the heat off me.

One thing I’m learning is that it doesn’t work. I realise why I always looked like a bloody nutcase and probably came across as quite nasty to some. I was terrified of getting the blame, as now I’m realising it’s not all that bad.

Today I received a bit of a snotty email from my head of department because I hadn’t given him a hand over and I had forgotten to press record on the lesson that I did last week (the recording was most definitely my fault!)

I was about to email back and say sorry, but I was expecting the class teacher to do the handover. Then I stopped. I just deleted the words and said sorry, I’ll try harder next time. And that’s the end of the matter. He wasn’t angry and I haven’t pissed off the class teacher by throwing her under the bus.

So, stop with the defensiveness. I cry less, I feel less angry, I get into less trouble. It sounds like a sweet deal to me.

Much Love

Rachel xx

Don’t feel passionate about anything? Try this….

Whenever you read a self help book or watch an inspirational speaker, one of the first things that they tell you is to find something that you’re passionate about. They tell you that if you want to be REALLY successful you have to find something that sets your heart on fire and will keep you interested. But what happens if you’ve taken a few knocks in life and you don’t know where your passion lies? What happens if you feel completely lost and can’t even begin to think about what you like and what you want to do? There are so many of us out there that have this worry but there are ways to deal with it.

feeling lost? the truth is that most of us are

If you are anything like me then you will feel the panic rising in your stomach every time you hear someone tell you to do something that you feel passionate about. But instead of panicking about it and then drinking yourself into a stupor or falling into the deepest darkest depths of depression, why not try some of these exercises and see what they pull up.

  • Try reframing the question “what are you passionate about?” It’s so easy to hear the word ‘passionate’ and worry that you don’t care enough about where you are going in life. These words are highly emotive and designed to fire up certain personality types. People who are naturally a bit more introverted would probably be best asking questions like “what are your hobbies?” or “what do you find enjoyable?” This is far less in your face but also far less intimidating for us quieter types.
  • Try to keep in mind that not everyone has a cause that they would fight to the death for. It’s OK to just bob along with the flow. This is especially the case if you are recovering from addiction or mental illness. You need to be gentle with yourself and giving yourself some lofty goal isn’t always the best way forward.
  • If you do want to look more closely at what floats your boat, then write a list of all the things you enjoy and take the money making element out of it. Don’t worry if you enjoy crochet while carp fishing. Do that for fun and you never know, the better you get at it the more likely you are to find a community and that could lead to a money making enterprise further down the road.
  • Think about what you enjoyed when you were six. Often, as we get older we start to think that the things we wanted to do when we were really small are stupid. I wanted to be a clown when I was six and now people would think I was nuts if I told them that was my life goal. BUT, if you look at how much children’s entertainers charge for one hour on a Saturday afternoon you start to think that actually six year old me was probably a bit more savvy than I first thought. The things we wanted to do when we were children are normally really closely aligned with our personality types (and would therefore be something we could potentially become passionate about). So go back to that wacky list of jobs and just see if anything comes out of it.
  • Get out and try new things. When your confidence is low or your really sensitive this can be so hard but you will never get anywhere without pushing yourself. I always dread going to new social things, but people are nearly always welcoming, especially if you look a bit lost and nervous. Trying out these new things then leads to doors being opened. You never know who you’re going to be sitting next to and what they could offer you in the future. Just try chatting to these people. Let them know you’re nervous. There’s nothing shameful in letting people know that!

Most importantly, have fun finding what your ‘passion’ is. There shouldn’t be a tonne of pressure on you to find out what you enjoy. Life is supposed to be a journey and there aren’t many journeys that go in a straight line. Enjoy the process of wandering up some dead ends, finding out that some things just don’t work for you. Nobody is laughing at you if you ‘pick wrong’ on your first go. You can always go back and pick up on the road that you left off.

All I care about is making you jealous

I recently went to a concert at the O2 Arena in London and I literally had the best time ever. The artist I went to see wasn’t even someone that I was a big fan of, but the excitement of being in the arena and having the music pulsing through my body made me fall in love with everything that I was watching. For almost two hours of my existence, I sang and danced and soaked up every second of the experience. The lights and the staging were amazing and it was thrilling to be within a few metres of an international star.

But there was one thing that I noticed that was different about my experience and that of about 90% of the rest of the audience; and that was that my phone was in my bag for the entire show. At no point did I pull it out to start filming what was going on in front of me. Instead, having spent a small fortune on tickets and travel, I decided that I would prefer to actually watch the performance.

As one of the slower songs began to play I did take a look across the arena at my fellow audience members to see a forest of phones being held up and the owners of the phones spending a great deal of time and effort trying to get a good shot of the action on stage. The friend that I went to the concert with reached into her bag for her phone so that she too could do some amateur filming at a moment when there was an epic key change. This triggered an astonishing display of indoor pyrotechnics and she missed them all as she foraged around in her bag.

As we left the arena at the end of the concert I couldn’t help but wonder how many hours worth of performance was collectively missed as other people delved into their bags or peered at the action through tiny screens. And for what purpose?

It was the question of purpose that was most disturbing when I sat down and really thought about it. These people were not very likely to watch their shitty little video that couldn’t possibly have picked up the pop star on stage clearly. So why were they missing the live action to try and film it? Because they wanted to post it on social media; that’s why! And will their friends watch the shitty little video with poor sound quality? No, because they really don’t care.. And if they do watch the grainy images then all they’ll feel is either complete indifference or jealousy. And it’s the jealousy that we are aiming for when we use our phones like this.

I wasn’t filming at the concert but I’ve certainly done this before; not living in the moment because I want a good photo that I can put on Facebook. But it was on that evening that I really understood how much the world has changed over the last decade and what the effects must be on our general happiness. It feels like we are paying for concert tickets so that we can brag rather than really enjoy these special moments in life.

But how do we change it and will changing it make us any happier? I’m no psychologist but I have lived a life prior to social media and I would say that we need to have more intrinsic drives rather than extrinsic ones. Social media conditions us to show off and get rewarded with likes. However, if you don’t get the likes you are left feeling a little flat and deflated. If we can go back to the old way, where we get more of a buzz from enjoying things because WE like them rather than hoping THEY like it, then surely we have more control over that buzz?

I may be completely wrong but I have a feeling that this control over our own feeling and a lack of fucks given over what others think would probably improve our mental health exponentially. This could extend to so many areas of our life. For example, do the low paid job that you enjoy rather than the high paid one that your family expect. Or don’t buy the branded trainers that you hope will make you look cool. Instead you could put the money towards going out for a nice meal or a couple of trips to the cinema; anything that you really enjoy and that gives you warm and fuzzy feelings.

So next time you’re tempted to do something just because you think your friends and family will appreciate it, ask yourself whether it’s really what you want too. If you find yourself missing things so you can post on Instagram maybe it’s time to put down the phone and start living in the real world where it’s much more fun!

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