Educated: Tara Westover

As an avid reader, it’s a rare sight when I find myself finishing a book, and immediately texting every person I know that ‘they must read this book!!’ because I want to discuss it that strongly with anyone around me. However, ‘Educated’ by Tara Westover is just one of those rare gems.

Having seen this book hyped up across #bookstagram, I had pretty high expectations of the novel – but little to no idea of what it was actually about. What I saw on first glance was just another ‘outsider’ story. A young woman raised away from society by an over-zealous religious family. What I found on finishing it, was that this is a story of so much more.

Tara’s memoir is the story of her life on the side of a mountain. Raised away from the sins of modernity, she grows up with a Mormon family and her faith drives her life and everything she knows to be true. (My understanding of Mormonism is limited to seeing the musical ‘The Book of Mormon’ twice!)

Her father doesn’t believe in public schooling and keeps her and her siblings home from it. Spending her days scrapping on a junkyard and being encouraged to follow in her family’s footsteps, Tara taught herself everything that she knows. Studying late into the night, passing her ACT exams and gaining a place at BYU, Tara’s story is about pushing herself, and in this, away from her family.

It’s motivational at best. I’ve always loved to learn, but Tara willed herself on to study Algebra, Trigonometry, Physics, History… eventually becoming a student at Cambridge University, and later a Gates’ Scholar at Harvard. Her drive and passion sparked something inside me to be so much more and to continue to push myself in learning, in the way that she did.

Her writing is easy and digestible and she certainly knows how to engage the audience with her anecdotes and the way that she describes her family. However, the one major thing that made this memoir so stand-out – is that to the reader, we can see the traumatic childhood that Tara faced.

With no access to modern medicine (her mother being a herbalist), the work she was pushed into by her father, the abuse she suffered at the hands of her brother, and the traumatic injuries and eventual estrangement from her father – there isn’t one ounce of self-pity written into her words.

She doesn’t write for sympathy, but the book feels more like a way of her digesting what her childhood was – and at the heart of it, what it means to be family and to also pursue the person you have become. She questions everything about how she was raised, but never once does it in a critical way. I suppose she almost writes like an academic. Her writing engaging, balanced and fluid.

I can honestly say that this is without a doubt one of the best and most interesting books I have ever read. I’ll be recommending it for a long time yet!

Rach

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How My 2019 Resolutions Are Going

Since we’re nearly 1/4 of the way through the year (WHAT) – I thought I should check in with myself and take a look about how my NY resolutions are going so far!

Cut down on Diet Coke

This is probably one of my proudest goals that I’ve managed to continually hit so far this year! I’ve completely cut out diet coke and nearly all other fizzy drinks (don’t really like other ones that much!) for a month now. I’m replacing it with water, orange juice, tea, coffee sure… but I’m so glad to say that I’m back on my wagon of not letting myself drink any of the poisionous black water I love so much!

Go to the gym three times a week

I’ve been running, yoga-ing and trying to get back into my bouldering and climbing lately, so I’d say that although I may not have hit the strict ‘three times a week goal’ every week this year, I’m doing really well. Plus, I’m walking SO much more now I’m in London and have to walk to and from the train station all the time!

Pay off and cut up my credit card

Hm. It wasn’t ever gonna happen in three months, was it?

Read 50 books

I’ve managed to read 11 books so far, so we’re well on track to reaching this goal! I’m massively back into writing my novel and my blog at the moment as well though, which is usually my downfall with reaching this goal, so I’ve just got to make reading an equal priority.

Drink more water

I’m definitely doing this more now! I’ve invested in a fancy ass metal bottle for work, I’ve cut my diet coke drinking completely and I’m really doing my best to get all the water goodness into me and my skin!

Buy a house?

We’re well on the way to saving up to hopefully make this a reality next year! Fingers crossed for us!

How are your goals going?

Rach

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Why I Deleted Old ‘Gather The Rosebuds’ Content

Well, hello! I guess if you’ve only just joined the blog, then this isn’t going to be a particularly interesting post. However, if you’ve read my blog over the last two years or so (I’m not even sure how long I’ve had it at this point!) then stick around, because today I want to chat about why I deleted 200+ posts off my site – and why I have no regrets at all about doing it.

So, let’s start at the very beginning. Back in 2016, I started up this blog. I’d blogged before, but this site was the first one that I really LOVED. I was passionate about it, I was excited to have a platform to write on again without the criticism of it ‘not being perfect’ – and also, let’s not lie here, I can be a bit of an attention seeker. I liked having a place to be completely self-indulgent. To talk about things that I wanted to chat about, to give my opinions on books, tv, films and skincare – and also, to chat about the deep and personal stuff.

I started writing about my mental health VERY openly on this blog, and to some extent, I still do. I make no secret of the fact I’ve had a tough relationship with food. I’m not afraid to talk about my health anxieties or my experiences with OCD… however, I was beginning to share a lot more information that I had ever thought I would with the internet.

At first I didn’t really care. Until slowly people in my ACTUAL LIFE started to talk about things that I’d written on the blog, that I’d probably not have just brought up in casual conversation. I think what I’d begun to realise about my blog, was the sheer scale of people who were reading it. And yeah, this sounds hella stupid – like OF COURSE people are going to read your online diary… but I hadn’t really processed who and how many were.

Sure, it might not be as many as some – but my Google Analytics was telling me that I was getting daily hits from certain parts of the UK, people were coming back to view my site – and in real life, people were also commenting to me about things that they’d read on my blog, that I hadn’t really expected them to know.

I’m all for sharing my life with people and I’m not ashamed of my past mistakes in any sense, but I think for me, I was finding that my blog content wasn’t reflecting me as the person that I was evolving into, over the last couple of years.

When I started my blog I was 22, I was young, a bit of a drama head and I definitely used it as a platform to talk shit about people. The older and more mature I’ve got, the less I want to do that. The less I care about other people’s opinions and the more I just want to leave the past in a package back there – and get on with living my life, as it is, right now.

So, I guess that’s why there are only 20+ posts on the site now. Sure, I don’t have things to look back on as much, but I’ve got pictures, real diaries and a more safe space online now. I’m more careful about what I’m posting and I’m never doing it for the sake of it!

Rach

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Let’s Talk: Mental Health Sick Days

Today, I’m taking a mental health day off work. It’s the first time I’ve done this at my new job (which I’ve now been at for over 7 months) – and it’s the first time that I’ve allowed myself to do this, without an ounce of guilt or remorse about doing so.

I’ve had some frustrating and upsetting things happen over the course of this week (which I’ve learned to finally stop sharing with the internet!) and although I adore my job with all my heart, being at a place of work where I’m constantly reading about sickness – alongside the hope and positivity I see, can really start to weigh down on you.

I’ve tried to power through. I’ve tried talking to people around me about it and I’ve managed to get through from Monday to Thursday, maintaining my usually joking, happy and smiling attitude. However, inevitably I’ve cracked.

I woke up loads last night, tossing and turning. Turning my alarm off this morning I felt heavy, sick and anxious. I didn’t want to put a brave face on today. I wanted to sit in my PJs, with my cat, read books and have a bath. I wanted a day to dissociate from everything – and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

I commute and going into the office takes me just over an hour or so. I would have to go to meetings today, I would have to manage my to-do list, phone-calls and expectations from other people – and it’s one of those days that I know that I’m not up to the task at hand.

I know it can feel silly or undeserved to take a time out when it’s your brain that isn’t playing ball. I did consider working from home and powering through once again, but for once, I’ve decided to treat myself with the same kindness that I would to anyone else in my situation. Taking a pause.

My mental health is leaps and bounds better than it used to be. A year or two has made a staggering difference to my OCD, my anxiety and my general mood… BUT, I’m human. Things get me down in the same way that they would anyone else, and my mental health deserves some rest and relaxation.

Mental health days are now a rarer occurrence for me, but they are still a necessity. I’m so lucky that I’ve got a manager who I can confide in and be completely honest with, but remember that if you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s no guilt in doing the same as I am.

Remember, your psychological wellness is JUST AS IMPORTANT as your mental wellness. You wouldn’t be barging on the tube and into the office with a broken leg, so why would you do it with a poorly brain?

With that, I’m going to get back to my book, take a long walk and have a bath. Cya soon internet.

Rach

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February Wrap-Up

Well, hey! Bet you didn’t think I’d actually bother to do another month of my wrap-up posts eh? I’ve been pretty crap with this blog lately, as work, married life, moving house, planning travels and trying to save up for a new place = a very busy Rach. On top of everything else I’ve got to juggle. But I’m here and ready to share some of the awesome things that I watched, read and listened to in Feb. Enjoy:

Films I saw: Feb 2019

Alita: Battle Angel

I’ve never read the manga, but I know from word of mouth that ‘Alita’ originally was cyberpunk manga, which was incredibly popular at the time of release. I’m a huge fan of this genre and I had pretty high expectations going into the film. What I got was almost exactly as expected. The story was exciting, the animations and CGI beautifully done and the story fairly predictable to a point! If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know how fantastic the Powerball scenes are – and how enticing the world that’s been built is. Definitely looking forward to the next one! 8/10

Instant Family

If there’s a trailer that I don’t think did a film justice, it’s ‘Instant Family.’ When I saw the trailer I got serious ‘Bad Neighbours’ vibes from it and thought it looked a bit cheesy and crap. However, I could not have been more wrong. The film was heartwarming, ACTUALLY funny and incredibly sweet and wholesome. The fact that it’s based on a true story made it about a million times more emotional for me and I really loved it, far more than I had expected. 8/10

Books I read: Feb 2019

Body Postive Power: Megan Crabbe

I have to admit that this was a re-read for me (which is very rare) – but I felt like I’ve been slipping into some unhealthy brain and food thoughts lately, and I needed a refresh on the book that helped me cure some of my poor body image and ED thoughts. Megan’s book explores diet culture, the way that we think about our bodies, what ‘health’ really looks like and also explores her own story of anorexia. It’s informative, interesting and personal enough for me to thoroughly recommend – and it definitely changed the way that I view my own body. 9/10

Levels of Life: Julien Barnes

Julian Barnes’s new book is about ballooning, photography, love and grief; about putting two things, and two people, together, and about tearing them apart.

It feels horrifically uncomfortable to give a book that ended SO beautifully, such a low rating. However, I have to admit – until I reached the final part of this novel, I was, for lack of a better word, bored. I understood that Julian Barnes was trying to draw parallels between hot-air ballooning, the unpredictability of life and his wife’s death, but I found myself skim reading the majority of the novel as I wasn’t that interested. The last part where he talks about his wife and the impact of her death, was really stunningly written, and brought this up from a lower review. It was very moving, but it’s such a shame that he chose this particular structure for it. 4/10

Leaving Time: Jodie Picoult

I LOVE Jodie Picoult books. I’ve devoured about 6+ of them in the last few years and I usually don’t find fault with them. However, I’m sad to say that ‘Leaving Time’ was not a favourite of mine at all, to the extent that I actually gave up reading it after 100-ish pages and skimmed to the end. The characters were muddled, the story kept jumping all over the place and I didn’t find any of the characters particularly believable, or find myself rooting for them. I thought that the ending twist was [spoiler] too reminiscent of the sixth sense and not worth powering through the whole thing! Shame – but I’ll continue to read this author and hope that the next one is better! 2/10

Music I listened to: Feb 2019

thank you, next: Ariana Grande

Was there a single human being alive who didn’t obsessively listen to Ariana’s full album this Feb? My personal favourites are ‘bloodline’ and ‘ghostin’ (cry forever) – but I felt like this whole album was SO fantastic. Her voice is legendary, the songs are such an eclectic mix and most of them just make me want to dance! 9.5/10

Almost (Sweet Music): Hozier

My boy is back! ‘Take Me To Church’ would have probably been my most listened song in 2015 and I absolutely adored his music, so this new album is a welcome addition to my Spotify. Love everything about his voice, his sound and he’s perfect work background music! (Follow me on spotify if ya wish!) 8/10

So, that’s all for this month!

Hope you’ve all had a good one – and let’s look forward to later and brighter nights as we’re kicking off March!

Rach

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