when you feel a toe curl coming on

It starts with images that feel

Wrong to taste, a bitter tang

That hurts the tips of tongues

And then it scratches at the brain

Warning that there’s something wrong

Something less than perfect swims

Through our bodies to our toes

Where muscles curl in fluffy socks

The sign that life is full of hot

And heavy moments meant to be

Private, unseen by our curious eyes.

I’m reading a book called My Dark Vanessa. It’s incredible. I would even go as far as saying it’s one of my favourite novels ever… and I’m only just over a hundred pages in.

The story is about a girl who is fifteen and she falls for her English teacher. However, it is much darker than just a story of a harmless crush; because the teacher encourages it and he is three times her age.

The author goes into real detail as to what the two of them get up to and it makes for a toe curling read.

I just wonder what it is that makes us, as humans, feel this horrid feeling. I just want to cringe, curl up in a ball and close my eyes and ears. I think it might be the fact that it’s something I know is wrong, or something that we shouldn’t be privy to.

I say that it’s a horrible feeling, but yet it becomes compulsive; it’s like an addiction that just needs feeding. Perhaps, it brings up all of the memories of those embarrassing crushes we had on teachers and what would have happened if something would have happened there.

It’s fascinating reading and it’s brought up so many uncomfortable feelings and thoughts; something that I think is sometimes important to feel when we read.

Much Love

Rachel xx

P.S can we also just take a moment to appreciate that cover. It’s just so beautiful that I would love to frame it once it’s read.

if i were an austen lady….

If I were an Austen lady, written by hand

By Jane at her table in the light of the window,

I’d dance off the page and out into life.

I’d fall into love with dashing young men

With top hats and canes and ten thousand pounds.

I’d play cricket on lawns, hitching up skirts,

Reciting long poems at great family soirees.

I’d friend request Emma, Elizabeth too

And we’d picnic in pastures, unspoiled by man.

Oh, how I’d love to dance off that page

And live a life simply, away from the screen,

Away from the pressures and newfangled ways.

This is a picture of me and my great friend Sarah when we visited Jane Austen’s house in Alton. It’s just down the road from me and we have visited a couple of times. I always get so goosebumpy knowing that I’m walking in the same places that Jane did. We can never resist dressing up either!

Much Love

Rachel xx

when to talk and when to just shut up

overgrown trees from window with drops in rainy weather
Photo by Sam Willis on Pexels.com

The arms are out to hold some balance

But really it’s impossible

To strike a fair and even pose

When some will love the gore and blood

While others shy from simple words.

It’s hard but, oh, it must be done

To teach our kids the darker side

Of a world we built with our own hands,

Passed to them with shameful eyes,

Lowered to avoid the guilt.

I wrote about grief the other day, and how difficult it seems to be to talk to kids about these difficult subjects. It’s especially difficult not knowing all of their personal circumstances and what could be particularly triggering for them. But where is the line between being too graphic and just sheltering them from a pretty dark world.

In my tutor group I was asked to speak to them about what happened to the teacher in Paris on Friday. It was pretty gruesome but they handled it so well and they asked some amazing questions. They are Year 11 but it was still refreshing to have such mature conversations with them about something so terrible.

I then went to a Year 7 class to teach A Monster Calls and I had a student in floods of tears because of the cancer that is brought up in the book. She had lost a close family member and it was just too hard for her to deal with it. She handled it so well, asking if she could speak to me outside and I found her somewhere quiet to go and sit and read.

But this just goes to show how different students can react so differently to an event or a story. And where do we draw a line? One teacher refuses to teach A Monster Calls because parents get angry. That’s a perfectly acceptable point of view, but are we sheltering them from a world that’s pretty nasty? What happens when they become an adult and they don’t have the emotional resilience to cope with problems?

I ask this because I was one of those sheltered kids and the only way that I could deal with emotional pain as an adult was to drink. It stole my twenties away from me and I fear that these kids are going to suffer in the same way.

It’s a difficult decision to make, but it’s such an important one too. I applaud the Year 11’s who approached the story of the killing with so much maturity and my heart goes out to my Year 7. But I also think it’s really important to actually educate kids in what the world is really like.

Much Love

Rachel xx

for when you have unfinished business

Looking happy when I DID finish that 100 mile run!!!

It stares its ugly glare

Back at me in hot

And angry tones.

I wish that I

Could turn away

But guilt,

It keeps me there

Until it’s all zipped up.

I hate leaving things unfinished. But life is not perfect and there are some things that I either cannot finish or choose not to finish. And so these projects eat me up with guilt.

Today I finished reading a book that I absolutely hated from start to finish. I found the writing horrible and the story line too cheesy. But the guilt over not finishing it was so strong that I ploughed on anyway.

It just got me thinking how much time I must waste doing things that I don’t even like because I’ve started them and then felt bad about the idea of leaving them incomplete.

If I could make a change to my personality, I would be more carefree and care less about what the world thinks of me. If I’m really hating something I should allow myself to throw in the towel. Life is really short and it seems a waste to spend it on things I don’t enjoy.

That said, this same quality/ flaw (however you want to see it) has meant that I have stuck things out that have made me incredibly proud. I’ve swum the English Channel and run 100 mile ultra marathons. I can safely say that I did not enjoy the second half of those but I persevered. And I’m so glad that I did because those achievements are now with me forever.

I’d be really interested to know how others feel about giving up on projects. Does it eat you up with guilt or are you quite happy to put a book down after five chapters? I say that you need to balance things up which is sometimes really hard. How much do you want to get to the end and is it really worth it? Sometimes it’s a yes and sometimes it’s a no.

Much Love

Rachel xx