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The Measure of Success

When the given way to success is not your way,
And the arrows point so as to wound your heart,
It is hard to walk with purpose.

When the one-size-fits-all shoes do, in fact, not fit but pinch,

You long to stray




And run.

Through cool wet grass,
Shaking off the coat of expectation,
Exploring new sensations.

Ignoring the shouts of disagreement,
That signal failure to cope with differences.

It is not selfish
To want to know what we are,
To place ourselves.

Success is quiet, not showy.
Rows and rows of tiny achievements
Joined up like little stitches on a shawl
To wrap around ourselves
And hug tight, thinking,
I’ve done this and I’ve done that.
To afford time to feel
Settled and grounded –
To discover something that is purely you
And no one else
It is the best kind of success.
That inner germ of you-ness
With miniature tendrils quietly climbing
Just enough to curl around and hold onto a small life.
– And it is small.
It sits in a big world –
To find a place in this world and be happy to be small
Where the measure of success and the greatest achievement
Is peace within the folds of a calmer self,
Is acceptance.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Rachel, that’s just beautiful.


  2. rebeccaemin #

    This is beautiful. It also really makes you think. Wonderful.


  3. Jenny Kline #

    ‘peace within the folds of a calmer self’ – beautiful.


  4. Pete #

    I’m trying to find that place at the moment but haven’t found it yet. I think this is a stunning piece.


  5. I love this, has real heart, especially: ‘Rows and rows of tiny achievements/Joined up like little stitches on a shawl’ which resonated for me. And ‘That inner germ of you-ness/With miniature tendrils quietly climbing’ is lovely too. Did you decide to capitalise each first word of each line? That’s the one thing that I might have changed, just because then the short snappy lines would stand out more.


  6. Small achievements are still achievements… I use to say this when teaching in inner city schools. The ‘posh’ schools got all the kudos but they actually had the easy task. A small step in a tough school is a bigger achievement than the other way around. I also relate it to myself and all my own small steps that lead me onwards and upwards but might not reach any given destination…. nevertheless, we’re moving in the right direction.



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