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?

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

The Mind with Emma Stone

I wanted this to be the friendliest place on the interweb so let’s start this post by fangirling over Emma Stone. She is pretty much one of the coolest people out there and beautiful and talented. Is there anything that she cannot do? I could probably write the whole post about why I love her so much but I’m only here to talk about the new series that she narrates on Netflix called, The Mind.

The Mind is a five part series that delves into how our minds work and some of the problems that we can encounter with memory and mental illness. Now I love the sciencey stuff on brains and space because I think that they are so bloody infinite. There is no end point in what we can learn about them and I find that fascinating. So, of course, this series was a must-watch for me.

I’m a Christian girl so I believe that there is a God that has designed us and I feel like science is an exploration of what God has created so the two things actually sit together quite nicely, contrary to popular belief. He designed us to be curious so it makes sense that we should want to learn more about the way we work.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way let’s delve into the good stuff. All five parts were bloody brilliant but the last two were the ones that really piqued my interest because they could be linked to two of the things that I like to discuss on this blog: kindness and addiction.

One of these episodes was about mindfulness and one of them was about psychedelics. The first of these focused on Buddhist training and they told the story of the fox and the tortoise. The tortoise was scared of the fox and rather than fighting him or running away from him (the natural responses that we are all very familiar with), the tortoise tucked himself away in his shell and waited until the fox got bored. It wasn’t that the tortoise was hiding from his problem, rather he was making friends with the idea of it. This was such a revelation to me because feelings have always been something to be feared and combated with either drugs or withdrawing from a situation. Actually sitting with the feeling and making peace with it is so alien to so many of us.

What struck me most was that having mastered this the Buddhists didn’t use it to forge ahead with careers that would make them money or sporting feats that would earn them fame. Instead, they focused on using it to improve relationships. Without fear or hate eating away at us we are free to love others much more freely which is such a wonderful thing. We all know that love is the key to being happy and according to the Beatles, all you need is love.

And in being a good Christian you need to try your very best to live like Christ and he displayed perfect love. Jesus never pursued a cut throat career or spilled the tea on his disciples. He didn’t show hate towards the people who were viewed as the scummiest of society. He must have had o put aside his feelings of disgust and hate so many times and in its place there was love.

I remember a song from when I was young that went something like “Love is like a magic penny. Hold it tight and you won’t get any. Lend it, spend it and you’ll get so many. They’ll all roll over the floor.” So perhaps mindfulness and meditation can free up some space on our internal hard drives so that we can lend and spend some love. It sounds pretty good to me.

The episode on psychedelics also mentioned love. It showed studies that looked at what people felt when they had a trip and nearly all of them felt like there was a breaking down of the self and an awareness of an interconnection between us all. Again, it was love that seemed to hold us all together and it was a trip that was needed for these subjects to step out of themselves and see this. I’m not suggesting that we all go out and start smoking mushrooms but it makes you think that while we carry on with our daily lives down here in the physical world, there is something much stronger than money and politics that is keeping us together and making the world grind onwards.

It would be really nice if we could all experience that love without having to take drugs but perhaps meditation is the stepping stone. Interestingly, the LSD trips helped with smoking and drinking cessation if the participant had the intention of achieving that when they went into the trip. It just goes to show what we are capable of if we can tap into that higher state of consciousness that we just can’t reach down here.

I pretty much dream of a time when we are all just connected by love and friendship. I know that it can’t really happen here because society would fall to bits but I hope that at least here I can have that friendly interaction that doesn’t seem to be available in many parts of the internet. What do you think?

Much Love

Rachel xx

Feeling Iffy

When I first started going to therapy I was convinced that everyone hated me and was determined to “get me”. Quite frankly it was a terrifying time. I’m sure most people have that moment of paranoia where they walk into a room and it goes silent and you just know that everyone was talking about you. They probably weren’t but your head is playing tricks with you and wants you to believe it.

Since going to therapy and sorting myself out (a bit), I’ve gained an awareness that I didn’t have before and this helps me to identify when this is happening. It’s meant that although I frequently get worried that people don’t like me, I don’t let it spiral now. I give myself a good talking to when it happens and I’ve not had too many problems in a while.

But just recently I’ve had a bit of a turbulent time and I’m noticing the feelings creeping in, slowly and stealthily. It’s probably the reason behind why I’m doing this blog and youtube channel, because I know that I don’t want other people to feel crappy. I want to uplift them and make them feel pretty amazing.

My current issues have started with a family issue that had gone so much further than any of us expected. I won’t go into details but it’s meant that I’ve moved house and I’m questioning if I was ever really loved by one of my parents. That’s a truly painful thing to grapple with and I’m sure that it’s something that a lot of people have had to think about. It’s left me feeling unbalanced with one of my pillars of strength gone. Usually I would have turned to alcohol but now I don’t even have that so I have to really sit with my feelings.

I can wallow in my feelings and it’s good to do that for a time but I also now realise the I need to take times like this to step back and look at the bigger picture and all the people who do actually love me. Everyone has to do this at times and even if you feel totally alone I hope that you find some strength in Jesus. Just read the bible and you will see that there is always somebody who loves you more than words can express. That’s enough to get me out of my dark places but if you do still need help always reach out to someone like the Samaritans or call the emergency services or your GP. You never know what’s waiting around the corner so don’t give up because there might be something amazing in the works!

Also make sure that you have a forgiving and loving heart. The person who has chosen to walk from my life doesn’t like me very much right now but I hope and pray that they will return. If I allow bitterness to set in then there’s no chance of reconciliation. That’s something that I cannot and will not allow to happen.

Much love to all of you and have a lovely day!