thinking about death

We’re all thinking a lot

About the fact that it could end

At any time.

Life has very fast become

Transient,

A film we watch

With popcorn in our laps.

And now we see

The final kiss is near.

But rather than the leading man,

It’s from a virus

Sent from Hell.

This wasn’t how it’s meant to end

But just you try and stop

Those credits as they roll.

I hope your movie was a hit,

I hope it made you laugh and cry,

I hope you fell in love.

Just remember, don’t be scared,

Life is just a little blot

On a never ending spool of film,

And so, without a doubt,

We’ll meet again

Somewhere down the line.

During really scary and uncertain times I think that we are all forced into thinking more carefully about the end. Not wanting to get too dark, but the virus the world is faced with at the moment can infect anyone. And we have seen that apparently young and fit people can die.

But thinking about the end doesn’t always need to be dark and depressing. Because if you are thinking about the end, you also must think about life as a whole. And hopefully, you can look back on the life you have had so far and be proud of accomplishments and also remember really good times that you have shared with your family and friends.

I think that although this virus is causing massive disruption and thousands of deaths, it is giving a lot of people a chance to pause and really think about life and how we spend our days. And I guess that’s a really good thing, right? Just pause and breathe and reflect while you have this opportunity, because we don’t know what kind of world we are going to be stepping back out in to.

It’s also worth thinking about what you believe is going to happen after death. I hope that you have a positive outlook on death and where you will find yourself on the other side. My faith helps me to feel less scared and I hope that you have faith in something bigger than what we have here on Earth.

Use this precious time wisely.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

my fear of death

When I’m crossing the finish line of a running race,

That feeling is quite marvellous,

It’s one of utter relief.

It’s over, I can rest,

I can go back to pizza and the sofa

And an endless episodes of Friends and ER.

*

And when I finish the book that I’ve been reading

I have a feeling of enlightenment

That I wear proudly like a prom dress,

I can show it off in public,

The colourful things that I now know,

And the authors that I’ve read.

The closing of the book is the beginning of my fun.

*

But what can I say of what is certainly coming,

That fearful black entity that will swallow us all.

Yes, death is inevitable,

We can’t run away and we can’t close the book.

But is it an end like the end of a race or a classical work?

Or is it the beginning of something mistook?

The line is in sight and we’re heading that way,

But why all this talk about how to keep it at bay?

I’m thinking that maybe we should run at full speed,

Collecting our medal and the praise of our friends.

And we deserve it so much,

For surviving this world we live in today.

No, I don’t think that death is the end,

I do not think it is evil and dark.

But rather a blanket that’s placed round the shoulders

Of the tired distance runner who has battled it out.

It’s a hug from the coach and a medal in hand.

I agree that this world sees the pages slammed shut,

But only to wake in the bookshop of dreams

Where there is so much to read

That the fear and the pain are no longer things

On which your imagination can feed.

So, death terrifies me. I am a control freak and not knowing how or when or what even happens is something that makes me sweat. I mean, we all think that we are going to die as old people and our hearts just give up while we are sleeping. But the truth is that it’s probably not going to be a pleasant as that.

And then there’s the big question that is ‘where do we go?’ I’m a Christian, but even the Bible doesn’t tell me exactly what is going to happen. Do I go to a waiting room where they decide if I’ve made the grade to get into Heaven? Or do we go into some kind of hyper sleep until the second coming? There are so many questions still left open that I need the answer to. And I worry that if I think about it too much then my head will go pop.

That’s why I like to think that it’s not the end. Whenever I finish a race, I know that there are nice things to look forward to at the end. And I know that there are other races that I can enter to have another go at bettering my time. It is a similar experience when reading a book. There are times when I fall so in love with the characters that I can’t bear for it to end. But when the book is finished I can sit and think about it in my own head or discuss it with friends. I can read other work by the same author or see if the book has been made into a movie. Life won’t end as soon as that book is finished because the characters live on, and more importantly, I live on.

So, if death also terrifies you, try to think of it as a little break in the proceedings. It’ll be a time for you to have a look back at your ‘best bits’ and then prepare for whatever lies ahead in the great unknown. And if you have recently lost someone, it might be comforting to think that they have just finished this race, but they’re still out there running another one and waiting for you when it’s your turn to join them.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

the drama queen

It had taken her hours to find the keys.

The shed had been locked for more than ten years.

It was filled with tools and mowers and shears,

Nothing of use, until this day bloomed.

She wiped away pain along with her tears

As she fervently searched for the rusty old can.

The cap was tricky to prise from the top,

But she needed to do this, they all had to see.

Tears weren’t enough to show what she felt,

They wouldn’t dredge up the love that she needs.

She emptied the can, until she was drenched.

She smiled as she thought of the shock they would feel,

Of the kind words they’d say when she became dust.

She struck her one match, closing her eyes.

It didn’t take long for the fire to take hold.

Flames licking up over her head,

Becoming a torch, a warning to all

That people won’t rush to save those that choose

To make their own dark and devilish mess.

They’ll watch as she burns, down to the ground

Shaking their heads at the terrible waste.

She could have had quite the incredible story.

If only she’d needed far less attention

She wouldn’t have gone out in a blaze of glory.

I know so many people who seem to chase drama. While I was drinking I was one of them. I always needed somebody to be feeling sorry for me or to be jealous of me or to be in awe of me. I didn’t know how to just be.

I see so many people who are on that same destructive path, just inventing things to make people look in their direction. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did something really dangerous one day. And the sad thing is that they are so wrapped up in themselves that they don’t seem to realise people will only care about them for a limited time. Eventually we will be forgotten, so we need to savour the moment for our own benefit.

Therapy has taught me that I am enough on my own. I don’t need other people to tell me that I’m good or that I’m nice, I’m learning to know that from the inside. And I hope that the people I see needing this validation can find some peace. I hope that they can learn to live with themselves and that they don’t end up reaching some of the dark places I went to in my journey.

Take care of yourself and know that you are loved by God. Unfortunately people will let you down so don’t put your future happiness in people alone. Enjoy your time in the world, be nice and don’t chase likes and followers (there’s far more to life than those arbitrary numbers).

Much Love

Rachel

Coincidence?

What does it mean when the book falls open

On exactly the page you needed to read?

The words that you needed to soothe your soul

Or lift you up when you’re on the floor?

What does it mean when the butterfly lands

Or the rainbow emerges

Or your numbers come up again and again?

Is it just chance?

A little coincidence, just down to luck?

I am not sure that it’s as simple as that.

Perhaps I am searching for order in chaos,

Hope in amongst the darkest of days.

But what if there’s more to all of these signs?

What if they’re pointing to the place I should go?

Maybe they’re gently nudging along

A girl who is lost and desperately searching

For a little more guidance, a little more love,

From the greatest I am, high up above.

I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I really think that when I’m going a little bit off course there is somebody or something that is watching over me and giving me a gentle push so that I get back on the right path.

For me, it’s a Christian God that does this, but I know that people believe in other beings, some of them not connected with any organised religion. I think my point is that, as humans, we all need something bigger than us to love us and guide us. Kind of like a parent, but not human. Because humans are always going to let you down no matter how hard they try. It’s comforting to lean on something that will love us unconditionally. It doesn’t matter if we fail our exams or don’t do well in our sporting event, they love us anyway.

I hope that you can find something to have faith in because it helps comfort you in times of distress. And next time you feel a bit lost, ask for a bit of help. You never know when a sign might turn up.

Much Love

Rachel xx

to be like charlize theron

I’m thirsty for something.

I want to fill that gaping hole.

I want to find the thing that’s missing,

The piece that’s missing from my soul.

Perhaps I need to buy something?

That perfume they’ve been advertising,

That could be the thing I’m looking for.

Surely if I bought more stuff

My problems would all go away.

I’d be just like the models that I see,

The ones they use to show the stuff

To all of us who are upset

With where our lives have taken us.

If I was like Charlize Theron

And spritzed myself with damned Dior,

Then I could look like her, and be like her and have her perfect life!

I wouldn’t feel so thirsty

And I wouldn’t have that hole inside.

But I cannot afford that scent

So I’m not worthy of a place,

Among the blessed, the super models and the super rich.

Instead I’ll just go back to work

And spur the cycle on and on.

As humans we are thirsty for something and this world is so broken that we just chase all the things that give us instant gratification. I know that I’ve used alcohol to fill that hole in the past, but people can use all sorts and companies use that to their advantage. They know that we want to be happy and beautiful and by using a perfect looking model to advertise their products they are sending us a very clear message: buy this, and your life will be perfect. Buy this and all of your pain and your hurt will go away.

But I think that there is a way to fill that hole without chasing all this stuff. I think that we can fill it spiritually and it is far more effective. I know that not everyone agrees with organised religion but I think that a lot of people believe that there is something out there that is bigger than us and that offers people a lot of hope.

There is a reason that in 12 step recovery there is mention of a higher power, and that is because we can’t control ourselves without the help of something greater than ourselves. In times of stress and unhappiness, it is a great comfort to lean on something greater than any human.

I hope that you can find some way of connecting with your higher power because there is sometimes so much temptation in this world that it’s difficult to avoid doing yourself any serious damage. If you are struggling then maybe at least try picking up a Bible and having a read. I find that the Psalms are really encouraging. Even if the Bible is a bit scary, you might find that getting out in nature and connecting with a higher power is easier, or perhaps meditating. However you do it, I think that it’s worth at least exploring these ideas as we are bombarded with so many things that cause us stress.

Much Love,

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

Children in Need: It’s pulling at my heartstrings

Sorry, a bit of a rambly one tonight, but it’s my blog and this is the thing that is on my heart….. Tonight a large proportion of the British public will be sitting in front of the TV to watch Children In Need. This is a charity that the BBC launched in 1980 and has become a much loved fundraising event. Schools and workplaces across the UK take part in the fundraising efforts every year and a tonne of money is collected for amazing causes.

I don’t know how other people feel about these TV charity events, but I absolutely love them and I always have. I love the day of the event when we all dress up and do crazy things and then I love the TV show in the evening. I’ve been watching it since I was really little and, unsurprisingly, I’m watching it this evening.

But it’s the segments that show where the money is going that really gets me. As somebody who is super sensitive it can have me in tears during just a five minute segment. So far tonight they have already shown a group of kids who have cycled across the country despite facing real hardships in their lives. There have also been kids that have undergone awful rounds of chemo and if that doesn’t pull at your heartstrings then I don’t know what will.

It’s really made me think about charity and the part that it plays in our lives. I truly believe that we are all connected on a really deep and spiritual level and when we give to people who are in greater need than us it levels the playing field and makes our connections much stronger. We start to share in each other’s pain and also the successes and highs. And really this is what life is all about; we don’t get lasting satisfaction from a designer handbag, but we do from knowing that we’ve changed a life.

I also find that watching Children in Need makes me realise just how lucky I am. Some people have had the most awful time and quite often it has all been out of their control. It shows you how quickly life can change and how you must learn to hold onto the good times and cherish them as you don’t know what could be around the corner. It teaches me to feel much more content in the life that I have. I have a roof over my head, food in the cupboards and my family are all healthy. So many people can only dream of these things.

I pray for these people that I watch tonight and I hope that they can find some peace in their lives. I know that not everyone who reads this is a Christian but I do find a lot of comfort in the words that I find in the Bible and it helps me to know that our suffering is always for a purpose. I don’t know what that purpose is all of the time, and that is what makes life so difficult to navigate. It’s hard to understand why a young person could get cancer and I know that this is the reason a lot of people don’t have a faith. It’s difficult, I can’t understand it and it’s painful to see and to experience but I think that knowing that we are loved, no matter what, is sometimes the only thing that soothes my fears.

Well done to all the people who have put the work in to raise money. It fills my heart with all of the emotions to watch it and I will most definitely be donating this evening.

You can donate and see further details at the BBC website

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

What to do when life goes wrong?

There are times in life when everything is going stupendously. The flowers are in bloom and there is a spring in your step. But what happens when life takes a turn for the worse and everything just goes a bit wrong?

I was thinking about this today having just watched an interview with Glennon Doyle. I had come across her before and I knew her work but I didn’t really know anything about her life before she was a big writer and married to Abby Wambach. I didn’t know what had led her to the point that she was at when I came across her.

In the interview, she spoke about how she had the blog that she still runs called Momastery. She was a Christian mommy blogger with a husband and a couple of kids. Life looked pretty amazing from the outside, and it sounds as though she thought it was pretty amazing from the inside. And then disaster stuck and her husband told her that he had been unfaithful for the entirety of their marriage.

Now, for a lot of us that could have spelled the end of everything. The perfect life that she had portrayed on the internet had just been blown to smithereens. But instead she picked herself up and wrote a book.

Then, rather than worry about what people thought of her in the small community she had surrounded herself with she married the woman who she fell in love with, Abby Wambach. She didn’t care that people who had previously followed her were saying that she was wrong, she did what her heart told her to do.

And now, the two of them are one of the biggest power couples out there. They have a following of millions and they raise millions of dollars for charities that mean a lot to them.

I bet that there were some really dark days in between her husband leaving her and her marrying Abby and being where she is now. There must have been times that she got down on her knees and asked her God why life had to go wrong in the first place. But she persevered and kept following her heart and just look where she ended up.

There are times in all of our lives when a catastrophic event sends us careering off course, ending the life that we have come to know. But we need to remember that it is just lining us up for the next step in our life. And when life goes wrong, that is the time when we really truly grow. It’s the time that teaches us the most about ourselves if we are willing to stop and learn.

So next time something bad happens, remember that Gods timing is always perfect. You have been dealt that blow so that you can become a stronger person and be in the right place for your next blessing. If Glennon’s husband hadn’t left she would never have met Abby and if they hadn’t faced difficulties together then they wouldn’t be the inspiration that they are to so many young people.

Life has a funny way of working itself out so just enjoy the ride and really appreciate the full human experience, and that includes the bad parts!

When the time is right, I, the LORD, will make it happen

Isaiah 60:22

The secret to controlling your fears

Fear is just the worst emotion of them all, because what exactly does it achieve? If you were being chased by a rhino or found yourself in the middle of a battlefield then yes, I can understand how a bit of fear would be useful. But in our everyday, western lifestyle? Not so much.

And yet, it is an emotion that absolutely paralyses us and stops us from even trying to go after so many of our dreams. So how do we overcome this emotion that is sometimes strong enough to make the anxious ones of us physically sick?

There are several steps that you can take to reduce the fears that you have and start working towards the things that we really want. And we can do it in a way that is kind to ourselves and those around us. The last thing I would want is for us all to turn into a bunch of ball breakers who stomp on other people to get what they want.

So how do we do it? Is there a magic button that we can push to make it all go away? Do we have to fork out for expensive therapy? Is there a book that we can read that will reveal all? The answer to those questions are all no.

Really the only way to get over fear is simple trial and error. Runners can only get better at running by going out and doing it every day. Champion chess players can only win tournaments by playing chess every day. And your fear of a particular thing will only go away if you start doing it over and over again.

Fear becomes debilitating when you stop and think for too long. I have anxiety so I know that once I let something lodge in my mind, my brain runs with it. For example, if my boss gives me a sucky rota for a couple of weeks running, the sensible thing to do would be to go and speak to him about it the moment I’m feeling uncomfortable. However, for people like me, I tend to sit on it and then I start to worry that he’s giving me these terrible shifts because he hates me and then I start to reason that he hates me because I’m evil. The whole thing quickly spirals and before I know it I am terrified and have no control. It would be scary to speak to him but it’s far scary to go down that rabbit hole that I have just described.

With this is mind here are five actionable tips that you can put into practice when something starts to frighten you:

  • Go ahead and do it anyone. Unless it’s going to put you or anyone else in danger, what’s the worst that could happen.
  • Remain kind and loving towards other people. If you know that you have kept your side of the street clean then you have nothing to be ashamed about. A lot of people feel shame at being frightened and this is another strong emotion that is avoidable and useless. Just don’t lash out at people because you’re afraid and they are far more likely to help you out.
  • Retreat from the situation and take stock if you have to. I don’t advise you do this all the time as it can give you the opportunity to give up altogether. But sometimes a quick breather before you go charging in can be really helpful and stop you from doing any of the lashing out mentioned in the above tip.
  • Watch other people do the things that scare us. Quite often we are scared because we didn’t have good role models in that area when we were growing up. My mother was a great at caring for me but terrified of anything career orientated and so this was something I struggled with throughout my twenties. Now I’m learning from others and I’m coming on leaps and bounds.
  • Pray. Just turn to God and ask for love and guidance. I often find that spending some time in prayer or reading the bible just gives me that feeling of being wrapped up in a blanket so that I can’t get hurt. It helps me feel like I can go into battle and come out the other side intact. I often come out of this time of reflection just knowing what the answer is. It’s the not knowing the outcome that is the scary part but if you know that you are safe and that you are loved, these fears tend to melt away.

So go and tackle that thing that you were worrying about. If you’re worried about it you’ve probably already had the time to breathe and retreat so get out there and have a go.

I often try to imagine diving into my fears in much the same way as getting into cold water during my swimming days. I could either edge in bit by bit and drag out the inevitable moment when I would have to just start swimming. Or I could just dive in head first and get it out of the way. It’s far easier to just take that deep breath and leap in!

The joy of creating art

I don’t get any money or any fame from making my art but it is still one of the things that I hold most dear to my heart. Because the very act of creating is what we are designed to do as human beings.

My favourite things to draw are the beautiful things in life. I like the sunsets and sunrises and I like the countryside. I love the way that the sky changes colour and the leaves turn golden at this time of the year. I love the ripples on water and the sound that it makes as it laps up on the edge of a lake or a beach. I’m not a great artist so I don’t capture it as fabulously as some, but what I do make is mine and that makes it special to me, in just the same way that I was created by God and I am special to Him.