we’re told not to dwell on the past, but…

aerial view of people swimming on sea
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Those tiny fragments of the past,

Like jewels I scattered underfoot,

To be picked and viewed underneath

The jeweler’s microscope

In finest detail it is seen,

Enjoyed enough to bring us hope.

I constantly hear that we shouldn’t dwell on the past or fret about the future and I think that’s brilliant advice. I totally agree that mindfulness and living in the present is the answer to a lot of our problems in the modern world. However, I also think that remembering the good times and thinking about nice things that could be happening in the future can be really soothing when nerves are frayed.

I don’t know about you but I have lots of memories of times that weren’t even that great, but the moment itself, made me feel so alive, and those are the moments that I like to reflect on when I’m struggling in the present.

One memory that keeps bubbling up at the moment dates from 2012 when I was training for my first English Channel swim. Every weekend I would drive down to Dover and go and train with the other crazy swimmers for six hours a day. We would just swim up and down the length of the harbour, whatever the weather. It was monotonous and cold and miserable but I knew that I had to do it if I was going to swim to France.

However, there was this one day that I remember more vividly than all of the others, when we had been going for about three hours when the heavens opened. It poured down so heavily that I couldn’t see the beach or any of the other swimmers. I could probably only see a couple of feet ahead of me and it was just a little bit scary.

But I kept paddling with my head up, the rain pelting my face so hard that it actually hurt. I was glad that I had goggles on to protect my eyes. And just as I was starting to feel a bit anxious about the fact that the coastline had completely disappeared from view, one of the other swimmer let out an enormous shout.

It wasn’t a shout of fear or pain though. It was more of a war cry; a whoop. I instantly went from fearful to full of… life. In that moment I realised that I wasn’t alone, bobbing around in the ocean; I was surrounded with wonderful people who were all experiencing something quite breathtaking with me. Just because I couldn’t see anybody else, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t sharing the journey.

As the rain eased and I got my head back down for the remaining three hours, I reminded myself that I should not let go of moments like that. I should remember them and cherish them. Those moments when life is so raw and so human and I am so very much at the mercy of mother nature. They are the moments we should dwell on when we struggle.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the end is getting close and i don’t know how i feel

grayscale photo of woman
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Crossing the second shipping lane

With heavy arms that turned a thousand times,

But now the sun is risen and the fog

Has cleared to show a sea that flickers

Under daylight’s gentle morning kiss

And that dread of hours more has disappeared,

Now I’ll sort of miss relentless strokes,

The salt that once just burned my mouth

And the cold that enveloped my heart.

All that once was pain and strife

Is suddenly the reason for my life.

The end is near, I thought I’d flow

With joy at knowing I could end

This swim, this trial that has consumed

My every waking minute and

Instead I feel the ache of love

That’s being ripped away.

I just finished my third out of four essays which means that I am almost there! I am almost finished! And I am sure that most people have reached this point in something that has felt like a slog, the moment when you know it’s almost over. And the strangest thing happens. You realise that you’re going to miss it.

I’ve had this feeling over and over and I remember is most acutely from swimming the Channel. There is this feeling when you reach French waters and you know that you’re going to make it; you suddenly want to keep going. You have struggled for twelve hours, swimming through cold and dark and shipping lanes and shoals of jellyfish and you thought that you wanted nothing more than to end it.

I think that sometimes we’re addicted to pain and we just want to put our bodies and minds through hell. It makes you feel alive to feel pain and discomfort and many of us are sometimes really frightened that we aren’t living life.

I have this feeling that I’m going to end up crying when I press send on that final essay. And then I’ll probably start searching for something else to torture myself with. Because that’s the way I am.

Much Love

Rachel xx

vitamin sea

This is me crossing the English Channel in 2015

Fear can eat you up as waves wash over bobbing heads,

Only light from high power torches light the way,

But the water is a dark and murky soup

That churns beneath the ferry boats.

The rays of light will soon come up

And dance across the water’s edge

In pinks and purple hues that make for pretty photo calls.

But still the panic builds within the swimmer’s head

As land dissolves and doesn’t reappear.

I’ve always been fascinated by the water and sea and I have quite a special relationship with it given that I’ve been lucky enough to swim across the English Channel three times.

More than anything in the world, I would love to either row across the Atlantic or sail around the world. Although I know that both can be extremely dangerous. There’s always that worry that I may never come back.

And I think that’s what holds my fascination with the sea. It has this gentle beauty at sunrise when the water is flat and the swimming is easy. But when the wind kicks up it can snatch life away in the blink of an eye.

I’m missing the sea at the moment. The power of the waves crashing on the shore and the wonder of looking out to the horizon and trying to imagine where it may end. It’s not surprising that people in the past thought the Earth was flat.

I think that most of all I miss that feeling of taking a risk. We’ve all been cooped up and I haven’t felt that buzz when you’re bobbing in the middle of the sea and you can’t see land in either direction. It’s quite thrilling…..and I want it back.

Much Love

Rachel xx