how to be uncool

It’s a difficult thing, to be uncool.

At least that’s what I think as I walk through this world

Watching the hot shots and players, moving in packs.

You might think it’s harder to make it to cool,

It’s a status we all wish for, that is for sure.

But isn’t it harder to let that guard slip?

Isn’t it tougher to show your soft centre,

Your flaws and your fears?

Running in packs is easy to do,

But bounding along on your own special course,

There is danger in that and it lurks in wait.

It hides in the grasses waiting to pounce,

The moment your uncoolness opens you up

To all of the ridicule coming your way.

Better to change the stripes that you wear

To something more spotty and fierce.

You don’t want to be the next casualty

On this animal plain.

So get in your box and pretend to be cool,

The alternative choice is far less attractive,

It’s the well worn choice of every known fool.

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”

Lester Bangs, Almost Famous

It’s like the Serengeti out there if you think about it. There are the cool kids out on the playground and they are the Cheetahs of the world. And then there are the ones like me who bound around in a world of their own. They’re not cool, but they’re having fun just being themselves.

It only takes a chink in your armour and the big cats can attack though. And they will drag you down as hard as they can because that’s how they maintain their place at the top.

You may argue that it’s really hard to become one of those cool kids, but actually it’s harder to be uncool. Because being uncool means showing all of yourself, even the really embarrassing or negative parts of yourself. There is a vulnerability in it and that takes strength.

So, you might think you want to be one of the popular kids in your workplace or church or community, but really you should be aspiring to be one of the uncool ones. That’s where the real you lies and where you will find the deepest connections with others. And that’s a wonderful place to be if you have the strength to allow yourself there.

Much Love

Rachel xx

Being left behind is hard

I’m right where I need to be….

I sometimes watch the other girls,

Who used to share my year at school.

They glide through life and love

With elegance and gracefulness.

They seem to have this life all sewn up,

They get it in a way that I just don’t.

I’m messy and flawed and I struggle like mad,

To hold it together

In just the simplest of ways.

It’s difficult to hold down the easiest of jobs,

It’s easy to burst into tears when really I shouldn’t.

I can’t seem to act like a grown.

They tell me to pull it together

Like that’s what I wasn’t aiming for anyway.

It’s hard when you fall behind.

Everybody is taken already.

They’re loved up and married,

When you’re single and stony and cold.

They have the house and the car

And the two point four children to boot.

The anger it bubbles inside,

Every time that I scan through their photos,

Poring over the remnants of my life not lived.

I wish that I’d done something differently;

That I’d not had a baby or I’d taken that job.

But then I remember the love that I have.

The love from the people that peg me to the ground.

Not in a bad way, may I add.

They stop me from blowing away in the wind;

From losing my way in a world that is dark,

Where it’s easy to get lost

And where the bruises and knocks

Are violent and ever so frequent.

I remember that I’m not being left behind.

I’m on the path I was meant to be on.

I’m living the life that was designed for me.

It’s comforting and wondrously soft,

Knowing that someone is there in my corner,

A friend for life,

And a torch to guide me,

When I’m worried I’m too far behind.

Do you ever worry that you’re being left behind by the other people that are your age? I have friends who I was at school with and now they are doctors or lawyers. They are so successful it’s like they are not the same species as me.

But I am lucky that I have the foundation that is my faith. I know that the Lord won’t have put me on a path that wasn’t right for me because it was designed and mapped out before I was even born. That is comforting in times when I feel like I’m losing balance or that I have no momentum at all.

I’d love to hear whether others struggle with the same feelings? How do you get over the feelings of envy towards what others have achieved? How do you get over the feelings of self doubt when you think that the reason you are behind is because you are not good enough?

Remember that you are enough and you are always loved. If nobody has told you this today, then this is your daily reminder that you are incredible and you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

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

How to deal with the ups and downs of life (a couple of helpful tips)

I sometimes feel like I’m living more downs than ups and that can be a really difficult thing to deal with. But we’re all feeling this way and that is why life is so bloody confusing. It’s the fact that we watch everyone else and wonder how the fuck they are making it look so easy when they are looking right back at us and thinking the same thing. It’s laughable really, but it’s a truth that needs to be learned and accepted if we are to do anything great while we are here on earth.

There was a time when I was genuinely convinced that there was some kind of class that I had missed where everybody had a life manual dished out to them. I seriously believed that they all had this book that gave them a comprehensive set of instructions on how to do it right.

Of course, drinking to the excess that I did, didn’t make my understanding of life any easier, but I knew that if I could just get hold of that book, then I’d know where I was going wrong. I would know how to navigate life’s ups and downs without making the complete mess of it that I always did.

Now I know that this manual doesn’t exist and I have had to develop a set of my own rules. I see the rules a little bit like a seat belt that I can use on this rollercoaster that used to throw me all over the place, sometimes nearly leaving me on my deathbed. The rules don’t stop the rollercoaster from moving but they do stop me from flying out of my seat. (Crap metaphor, I know, but it fits with the ferocity of the feelings that I used to have back in those days).

So here are a few little ways in which I try to keep myself safe when I’m on that up and down journey and my knuckles are white with the effort from hanging on for dear life.

  • Repeat the words LET GO AND LET GOD. Handing everything over to a power greater than myself is always a comfort. It’s the loss of control that is scary so hand it over to something bigger than yourself.
  • Remember that another person’s opinion of you cannot harm you. I often find I’m so emotionally hurt by what somebody says that I forget it can’t do any physical damage. It cannot kill me and it only has the power that I allow it to have over me.
  • Somebody else’s opinion is often a reflection of their own insecurities. If they are being horrible to me it’s because something in their own past has been dredged up in them. That has nothing to do with me.
  • Knowing that THIS TOO SHALL PASS. There are not many things in life that last forever. A bad feeling, or a crappy situation will normally pass. I often try to think if I will remember what is happening in five years. If the answer is no then it’s probably not worth wasting too much energy on.
  • See life as a story or novel. You can’t have a good novel without there being a chapter or two where the main character goes through some shit. Without this the novel is going to be a little bit boring! So if you find yourself going through some difficult days or weeks or months, then think of it as only a chapter or two of your life and look forward to the upward curve when you will get your happily ever after.

I hope that some of these are useful to you. I know that shitty times in life are hard to get through when everyone around you appears to be doing so well. But know that they will be dealing with their own problems in their own times and you just need to stay in your own lane, get your head down and look forward to the brighter times that are already on the horizon.

You are loved and you are special and you just need to relax and breathe and smile like you have it all under control, because that’s all that those other people around you are doing.

Much love

Rachel xx

The Parenting Journey (a poem)

Sometimes when you set out into the land of parenting you can be a little bit gung ho and think that everything is just going to fall into place. You think that you will give birth to this rosy cheeked angel who will grown into the perfect child and then the perfect teenager and the journey will end when they fly the nest as a fully formed adult.

But in reality we all know it’s not quite that simple. We forget that most of the time we spend struggling with next to no sleep. Partners who seemed almost perfect suddenly become an annoyance at best; at worst, they disappear altogether and leave you to do the job all on your lonesome.

It’s a really difficult road to traverse and a lot of people gloss over the horrible bits. That’s pretty much what this poem aims to address. It’s the pain and the agony, the tears and the tantrums in all of their technicolour glory. It’s true that children really are a blessing but life is difficult and parenting really brings this message to the forefront. So without further ado, I give you The Parenting Journey:

The blurred and fuzzy black and white

image doesn’t seem so right

knowing that the little bean is mine.

I’ve seen it played out for

The other couples that deserve it more,

That know the way to sparkle and to shine

As loving leaders who will guide

That little child and push aside

The horrors that can plague our earth.

And when the babe is finally born,

And our hearts are gladly torn

Into shreds that have no worth,

We realise without a doubt

That older worries all mean nowt,

As new life starts to take its root.

There will be pain and hurt and strife

As there is as part of life

And that’s a point you can’t dispute.

So then you have to watch them grow

Even though it hurts you so

To watch them stumble, trip and fall,

When all that’s running over, round and through

Your mind are all the things that are not true

That hold you back from standing tall.

It’s all a bunch of hurtful lies

That are designed to close your eyes

To all the things you do so well.

You’ve brought him up through all these years

Of fun, of laughter and some tears.

Sure you lose your temper, you may yell.

You may wonder what it is that keeps you going,

And then you see him as he’s growing

And see the journey you are taking.

You realise it’s worth the struggle,

The daily battles that you juggle,

Because there’s love with no mistaking.

Self worth: How you should be talking to yourself (plus poem)

Before I started really working on myself and understanding that there was work to be done my self worth was incredibly low. I used to talk to myself like crap. I think that a lot of us do it and, worse still, we sometimes don’t even realise how badly we are doing it.

I remember when I was slowly reaching my ‘rock bottom’ (I really hope it was my rock bottom because nobody wants to go there again!) I would say the most dreadful things to myself. I recall saying over and over in my head that I was useless and I even went as far as to call myself evil. I would find myself crying and wishing that I was dead as this voice just rang out over and over again. “You’re evil, you’re evil, you’re evil. The world would be a better place without you in it.” It brings chills to my body to even write that because it really does bring back that awful time with such intensity.

However, through a lot of hard work and therapy and going to meetings for my alcoholism, I have managed to (almost) swing it around. There are still days when I am stressed or tired and I find myself slipping back into my old patterns but, on the whole, I am so much better.

If you are struggling with the crippling effects of talking to yourself like you don’t matter, here are a couple of ways to try and put a stop to it:

  • Make sure you get enough sleep and try to avoid stress. As I mentioned, these are two things that are bound to set me off.
  • Read some self help books or watch something uplifting on Youtube. You may think it’s a load of old woowoo but hopefully the uplifting message will give you a bit of a kick.
  • Meditation, because this is bound to quieten the voices in your head. It takes some practice but the benefits once you’ve gotten the hang of it are not to be sniffed at.
  • Be creative because this is taking your mind off the words that are tumbling through your mind. And if you make something nice, you feel as though you’ve accomplished something. Useless people wouldn’t be able to do that!
  • Talk to a friend. Again distraction and connection with other humans are so useful. It’ll help to remind you that there are people out there who love you and value you.
  • Talk to yourself as though you were talking to your four year old self. You wouldn’t tell that little girl or boy that they were pathetic and vile. So don’t tell your grown up self that!

Want to work smarter? Stop asking questions…

I want to see people start to do well and one of the biggest problems that I see with people who are a little more timid is that there is a fear to take the next step, purely because you’re worried about going to go a little bit wrong. And how do we get around making a mistake? By learning from others and asking lots of questions, of course.

Now this is excellent advice, especially if you are new to a subject area and there is a lot to learn. It seems silly to make a whole load of mistakes that somebody else has already made when you could just ask the question and avoid a whole load of aggravation. But there comes a point where you are asking questions for the sake of just asking questions and this just makes no sense.

When I decided to swim the channel for the first time I had very little knowledge of how to go about it. I had been a swimmer as a kid, so I knew what I was letting myself in for physically, but I didn’t know about any of the logistics and the planning. However, I knew that I could get lost in tonnes of advice and ultimately talk myself out of the idea of doing the swim at all. So what I did was sign up for the swim and then start my research afterwards. And even then, I focused on getting myself into training above asking any questions of other people. It didn’t take a genius to work out that lots of long distance was the way to go; I didn’t need to hang around in a chat group to find that out.

However, you would be amazed how many people there are out there that do hang around in said chat rooms, asking how many lengths they should be swimming during each session and a week by week breakdown of it all. These are the people who generally do end up talking themselves out of it. Or worse still, they sign up and then fail because they’ve been procrastinating for so long.

It seems like basic common sense but sometimes we need a good shake to remind us what is sensible. I got across to France with a year of training and no faffing around with Facebook groups that just would have drained my energy. My personal opinion is that a lot of these people on there, want to find an excuse to not go ahead with the swim. And this is the case with so many things in life. There are a lot of people who want to find that one piece of information that will make it OK for them to back out. Do you want that? Are you actually hoping for a reason not to go ahead with your dream? Perhaps the thought of possibly failing is too painful to deal with so sabotage is the better option. Or perhaps you don’t want to put in the hard work?

By all means, build a supportive community of friends involved in the same thing and get yourself educated enough to decide whether or not you should spend time and energy on a project. But once you’ve made that decision, just go for it! It’s fine to be worried and anxious, but nothing great has ever been achieved without taking some risks and making a few mistakes of your own along the way.

With that in mind, here are five ways to stop yourself from getting carried away with too many questions:

  • Read one or two good books on the subject and then stop! If you pick wisely you should have a good enough outline to get started without the need to read a whole library.
  • Limit the number of support groups you join. This is particularly the case if they are on social media because you can lose days looking at every single post and not concentrating on your own task in hand.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake. We all make them and as long as you learn from it, there’s no need to become over reliant on other people. Leaning on people too much after a set back only encourages us to waste more time.
  • Devote chunks of time to solely working. If it’s a clothing line that you are building then say that in a five hour day, four of those hours have to be spent creating and being a business person and only one of those hours can be spent speaking to other business owners about what they would do in any given situation.
  • Really celebrate your successes because this will make you more confident. And it is confidence that will help you to trust your own instincts. If you have this confidence then you won’t need to turn to other people.

So get your head down and go for it. It seems like such a shame that your good ideas might be put to waste because you’ve spent too much time asking questions and not getting stuff done. I want to see all of you do amazingly well and I hope that this has given you some motivation.

Do you worry that you don’t have the knowledge to get started and what would be the thing that helps you to get over it?

Have you ever given up on a dream because you’ve entered into information overload or worried that you could never have enough information?

If you could start anything tomorrow without the need to do any long and boring stretches of research, what would it be?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I’m embarrassed about my dreams!

I’ll make no apologies about saying that I have the biggest girl crush on two women and they are Mel Robbins and Rachel Hollis. I know that both of them can be a bit Marmite but I love them both, and unashamedly so. And the reason that I love them? Because they are not embarrassed to tell the world what they want and then get after at!

This post in itself is inspired by something I heard Mel Robbins say in a video I watched this morning. I was looking for a little bit of oomph so I did my usual and I put on some Youtube. And one of the first things that I heard was this: Don’t be embarrassed to give voice to your dreams.

Mel was saying that she had this vision that she wanted to be just like this guy who owned several talk shows and when she was in college it seemed like such a far out dream that she didn’t dare tell anyone. I mean, if someone asks what you want to be when you graduate and you tell them that you want to be a talk show host they’re going to laugh. Or are they?

Because deep down most people have a dream that is pretty wacky, so much so that they never say it out loud. Deep down those people are wishing that they too had the guts to say it out loud, because once you start declaring it to the world it frees you up to start working towards it. The fact of the matter is that most people will secretly be really jealous that you have the courage to come out with it and say what you really want.

So with that in mind, I want to declare what my weird and wonderful dream is. I don’t care that it is embarrassing to admit it, because I know that the only reason it’s embarrassing is because I’m so far away from it at the moment.

My goal is to be able to stand up and inspire people just like Mel and Rachel. I want to give people courage and that little bit of pazazz that they need to get on in life. I also want to have books that are traditionally published and make the bestseller lists and I want to talk on the radio. I’m not that interested in TV, but I’ve always had a thing about listening to people’s voices. I’m not cool enough to be on Radio One so maybe Two could be my place?

I really hope that this inspires you to step out and make your goals known. I’d like to challenge you to a few things and perhaps we can do them together? I’d really like to hear how it goes and whether you notice forward motion quickly or slowly? So here’s three things that I’ll commit to doing and I hope that some of you will too

  • Tell at least three people in your life what you want to achieve. Say it with a straight face and conviction so that they know you’re deadly serious. I’d be interested to see what kind of reaction you get back.
  • Take a step towards achieving part of your overall vision. I have no idea how to get into public speaking but I am going to try and land a gig. Give yourself a specific time goal. I’m going to say before the end of the year.
  • Visualise achieving your goal every day.
  • Tell a stranger that you’ve already achieved it. Obviously, if you want to win an Oscar and you’ve never even been on a film set, you might not want to go in with that. Perhaps tell someone that you’ve had a bit part on a day time TV show. Enjoy the praise and attention that you get so that you can try it on for size. It’s only a bit of fun and I’m not asking you to get yourself into trouble with any big lies! In fact, don’t call it lying, just call it experimentation!
  • Start networking. Get material and positive vibes out into the world because it will all bounce back eventually. You don’t need to be suited and booted and handing out business cards at networking luncheons. That kind of thing makes my stomach turn. But do write lots of content and comment on people’s posts and profiles with energy and gusto.
  • Have fun. This is the most important because what’s the point in achieving your goals if they are not making you happy? And you may tell that stranger that you’re an actress and hate the attention. If that’s the case then maybe you know you’re barking up the wrong tree. You might need to change direction completely or just modify your goals ever so slightly. My overall message is that life is a gift and we need to enjoy as much of it as possible. We can easily make mistakes and that’s not a bad thing if we learn from them.

The first step to success is this…

Are you struggling to get yourself moving in life? There are so many areas that we are trying to juggle and sometimes it’s really easy to drop one of the balls. And the way to make sure that you are able to pick it back up and get moving again is to tell people about it.

Perhaps your fitness goals have fallen off the radar and you know that you need to pour some time and energy into that area of your life. Perhaps you have decided that the way to do this is to run a 10k or a marathon, or even an ultra marathon! It’s all very well setting yourself this goal, but how are you going to hold yourself accountable?

The most obvious way is to TELL SOMEBODY ABOUT YOUR GOAL! If you tell somebody then you have to put the training in otherwise they are going to be disappointed when they next check in with you. And that person can help! They can be your cheerleader and encouragement on the journey. If you are starting a new business they may be able to provide that key contact to jet propel you to the next level. If you’re trying to stop drinking that person you tell can be the person to take you off to the cinema rather than a night at the bar with all your boozy friends.

You also need to tell people what you need emotionally. It helps to tell people if you’re feeling drained because then they know what to do to help you. It might just be a case of them coming around to have coffee with you to perk you up when you’re feeling low. Tell your friends and colleagues how you feel! And tell them what you need!

This video goes a little deeper into this topic. Please give it a watch and hopefully it will give you a push in the right direction.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

Find your ONE person

So I’m a creative type and that means I like to make things. I like to make lots of things and pump them out into the world. And that is really fun but sometimes I really want success and I just don’t get it in the way that I sometimes want. I sometimes want numbers and I want them as high as possible.

But like so many people I don’t get those high numbers. So why would I want to carry on? It’s because I really want to touch a person’s heart and it doesn’t matter if it is just one person. I want to know that at least one person has read my work or seen a picture that I’ve drawn and it’s made them feel better. I don’t really care all that much if my instagram has less than 100 followers, as long as one of those followers smiles when they see what I post.

I heard a writer once say that they were at a signing and somebody came up to them and said that their book changed there life. And she said that was better than making the New York Times best seller list, and that was great. So find your ONE person and be grateful that you could have that effect on someone.