Celebrate Good Times


So, another year comes to a close. 2014 has been an interesting experience for me. I learned a lot, professionally and personally. It was tough at times, but in a way that has deepened and broadened and clarified my mind, and helped me gain some much needed perspective and contentment.

I have found that as I have left the university and early twenty-something years behind, where there is so much change and upheaval and opportunity, it can be difficult to adjust when life settles into a more permanent routine. After all, it’s hard to feel like your life is going somewhere when you’re literally not going anywhere. I’ve been in the same place for three years now, and being settled, being static, is a state I am still getting used to. I often have moments where I feel my life lacks excitement and purpose, and my wanderlust begins to kick in, calling me to responsibility-free foreign climes rather than the 9-5 in the Home Counties. It doesn’t help when social media is constantly showing me photographs of friends who are doing all manner of ridiculous things, like saving children in Uganda or kayaking their way around Scandinavia, or getting married on top of a mountain in India, or setting up their own internet company from their penthouse apartment in New York. In comparison, my photos, if I could be bothered to upload any, would consist of the pile of A Level essays I marked, a graveyard I visited or a rubbish cake that I made. I couldn’t be more boring if I tried.

However, as I have been mulling over my year and considering what I will take away from my experiences of the past twelve months, I’ve been amazed at how much I have achieved, and how much I’ve grown. I’ve come to realise that staying put doesn’t mean I’m not going anywhere. Far from it, actually. I don’t need to go travelling around the world to have adventures any more, because I have them every day just by going to work. Even though it is often exhausting and sometimes incredibly frustrating, I find such a deep sense of fulfilment and pleasure in teaching my students that I know, deep down, if someone offered me a free round the world trip tomorrow, I wouldn’t want to take it. Nothing could challenge me more. Nothing could inspire me more. Nothing could teach me more. Nothing could delight me more than the children in my classroom. They teach me more about myself and give me more inspiration than I could ever give them, and they change me for the better, every single day.

I’ve watched my beautiful, clever, brilliant, hilarious, amazing nephews grow another year older and another year wiser. I’ve made some fantastic new friends. I’ve visited two new countries. I’ve started a choir at work. I’ve read a lot of fascinating books and visited a lot of interesting exhibitions and seen a lot of wonderful plays. I’ve truly learned something new every day. I’ve had a lot of fun. I finally stopped talking about writing a book and actually wrote it, which I am enormously proud of, even if I am the only person who ever reads it. And, of course, I got to share all of these moments with you, and notched up another year in the blogosphere in the process, which is always an achievement worth celebrating. I might not have set the world on fire, but it’s been a pretty brilliant year nonetheless.

So, here’s to 2015…it’s got a lot to live up to!



  1. As the last day of 2014 comes to and end in Australia, I wish you a healthy, happy and productive new year. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, dreams and aspirations with us, your readers. And can I leave you with this thought: ultimately our lives and those with whom we associate are more fulfilling and enriching because we continually question and strive to improve ourselves.

  2. It has been exciting to follow you through all the ups and downs of 2014, Rachel. I so admire your dedication to your students and the initiative that you take to enrich your life in small but meaningful ways (the choir sounds particularly alluring). You know how to make yourself happy and that is the best gift anyone can have. All the best for 2015. Hopefully, among its many other highlights, it will be the year when we meet again – I’m aiming to be in London next October for a couple of days.

    1. Thank you very much, Claire! You’re very kind 🙂 I know I am rubbish at commenting on other people’s blogs, but I do read yours regularly and have been enjoying your adventures too. 🙂 I wish you a wonderful 2015 too – and I hope you do make it to London because I would love love love to see you!

  3. Rachel, it’s always a pleasure to read your blog. Congratulations on writing your book. I’m a lot older than you and I still haven’t done it. You inspire me. Hopefully, 2015 will be the year! I hope you have a wonderful year ahead.

  4. Dear Rachel,
    Happy New Year to you! Thank you for your insightful, honest posts and for the generosity to share so much with your – as in my case unkown  – readers who often do not give anything in return. I suppose people often do not know what they mean to others or in what way they influence others. So, thank you for letting us participate in your thoughts and for helping us to reassess our own situation from time to time. Best wishes.

  5. I smiled when I reached your closing remark “I might not have set the world on fire” because it nearly quotes a Mary Chapin Carpenter song that had already been called to mind by this post. In Beautiful Racket she sings “You used to have dreams of setting the world on fire / All you want now is peace of mind.” There was a point recently when regular readers of this blog may have feared that you where far from finding peace of mind, but this latest update suggests otherwise. Long may your optimism and positive thinking last. Happy New Year.

  6. Hello Rachel. Thank you for all the pleasure that reading your blog over the last twelve months has given me. Happy New Year to you and I wish you success in all your endeavours in 2015

  7. Happy New Year, Rachel! Have you seen Finding Vivian Maier yet? It’s a fascinating documentary about a woman who worked as a nanny – mostly so she could take the children around New York and Chicago while she took pictures. Thousands of photos and negatives were hidden away, never shared, and they’re breathtakingly brilliant. One photographer said she never defended her art (or something like that). Okay, so there was likely some mental illness involved….but what I’m trying to say is…defend your art and peddle that book of yours!
    Here’s to good things in the coming year; you’re lovely.

    1. Happy New Year to you too, Darlene! No I haven’t – that sounds amazing! I need to look that up! Hahaha – thank you – I will, don’t worry – I know I need to put myself out there so that is what I am going to do! Thank you – I hope your 2015 will be marvellous!

  8. Have a wonderful New Year. What you are doing is changing the world, one student at a time. Their achievements will be in part because you have touched their lives. I know that sometimes teaching can make you feel as if you are on a treadmill going nowhere. You will constantly become a better teacher as you learn from your students. It is important work. To some of them, you may be the only responsible adult in their world. Continue to work on that book and take time to enjoy those nephews, your students, books, the beautiful things that you experience. Never feel like what you do isn’t important. Everyone has a different road to follow. All of us enjoy your posts so much.

    1. Thank you, Janet – what a wonderful comment. You have made me feel amazing after reading that! It’s so easy to lose sight of what’s important sometimes – thank you! I wish you a wonderful 2015.

  9. Dear Rachel, well done on this year. On reflection I think years of staying in the same physical place are good, for the personal growing but also necessary for when the years of change happen. One truly knows oneself.
    Happy 2015 & the great thing about teaching is that if one gets the whiff of travel the world is one’s oyster for teaching jobs & summer holiday travels.

    1. Thank you Rachel – yes, you’re right. Being static sometimes is important, because it means you can focus your energies on yourself rather than on adventure. I do think these past two and a bit years have been a time of personal growth for me and I wouldn’t really have missed them, even if I do sometimes have my moments of wishing I was doing something more thrilling. Thank you – same to you. I need to start planning those summer holiday travels, actually! 🙂

  10. Happy New Year!
    As always, your article gave me a lot to think about. Is it really necessary to do the amazing things your friends do? Isn’t it a sign of maturity to stay where you are and try to change the world there? To see the extraordinary in everyday life? I am convinced you don’t have to go to Uganda to do that. Of course, I admire people who do the things you mentioned – but I also admire those who bring out the best in their own part of the world.
    You do that every day by teaching. And you wrote a novel!!! You have so much to be proud of, and I am very much looking forward to another inspiring year with you here on your blog.

    1. Yes, you’re right – doing things where you are is just as important, and getting more involved in my community is definitely something I want to do in 2015. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement – it means so much! I wish you a fantastic year ahead.

  11. This is it! I’ve been trying to sum up my feelings about 2014 and in a nutshell you’ve said all I wanted to say and made me think of some more that I hadn’t. I had a very sedentary year and I did nothing that would count as ‘amazing’ or ‘life fulfilling’ but at the same time I feel like I established myself. One of my friends has been travelling since we finished uni 5 years ago, she came home for a month and told me she was scared to settle down. I realised I was pleased I didn’t have to live with this fear. There’s adventure in the small things!

  12. You are the least boring person I’ve ever met in the blogging world. And you make a tremendous difference in the world. One doesn’t have to be in Africa to help people. Your students, the people you know in real life, and your blog readers are all enriched by you.

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