Obviously, anything book-related or educational: teaching, the educational system, the horror of standardized tests and standardized learning, online learning (a more recent speciality), autonomy for teachers, and the importance of literacy.
Rachel has a strong background knowledge of Christianity and is well-versed in scripture. She grew up Baptist and converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, a conversion that took a heavy catechism through church history, lives of the saints, and sola scriptura.
She is currently writing a book on literature and self-actualization and has been studying Joseph Campbell's "The Power of Myth" and the heroic cycle and how we are all called to a heroic journey. With that said, she has a lot to offer someone who is interested in any self-help or self-knowledge type platform. Anyone building a life-coach type platform-- she's your girl.
Rachel is also a fan of Eckhart Tolle and the work he has done to help people raise their consciousness and recognize the ego's role in our relationships, health, and overall drama. In short, she can write for the mindfulness movement.
She read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" when she was 14 (a precocious child), and has re-read it along with other self-help gurus like Tony Robbins to Wayne Dyer.
The writing process and literature
Autoimmune disease (mainly because she has one and has researched it extensively in the last couple of years.)
Self-actualization/ Personal Growth/ Self and Soul/ Manifestation of dreams
The mindfulness movement
Non-profit/ humanitarian issues
Motherhood and childhood development
Health and Diet
Self-image and Self-esteem
Infatuation vs. Love in dating advice
University of Houston (Main campus) - BA English Literature/ minor in journalism
Studied a wide-range of British and American literature dated from the middle-ages to the twentieth century; wrote essays, news articles, PR ads, and feature stories; and produced projects and presentations under deadline pressure.
Texas Certified in English, communications, and ESL
Rachel has been an educator for roughly 12 years. She knows how the system works and why teacher retention is perhaps the major issue facing school systems.
She is an advocate for reading classical literature and having more meaningful discussions in class. Rachel's real talent is in developing high-level questions that evoke deep thought and connection. Even with online learning, there is still a way to connect with students and create higher-level thinking questions that will help relieve them of the boredom of being home online. Knowing students and having her own high schoolers in public schools, last spring she noticed that the most frustrating thing about going online was the frivolous material-- tasks that didn’t seem relevant. The goal should never be to just keep them busy, but to get them to think, so that they enjoy learning.
This is an example of the type of work I've done for a non-profit who wants to assist teachers so that they can focus more on teaching students:
Dreams are the touchstones of our character.
-Henry David Thoreau
“The Touchstone Method” is a term coined by Matthew Arnold, the famous Victorian poet and critic. He introduced the term in his essay “Study of Poetry” to denote short but distinctive passages, selected from the writing of great poets, which he used to determine the excellence of passages or poems which are compared to them. As such, touchstones were markers, indicators and pieces of excellence which could then be modeled.
Touchstones also have served as a major component of mythology. Here, for example, is a legend repeated in several cultures but containing the same basic elements, perhaps fitting the idea of an archetype as suggested by Jung:
According to an ancient legend, if you could find a touchstone and hold it in your hand, everything you touched would be healed and restore life and vitality. You would recognize the touchstone from ordinary stones by its warmth. Ordinary stones would feel cold and empty, but when you picked up the touchstone, it would turn warm in your hand, and you would experience your life being restored.
There once a man who sold everything he had and went to the coast in search of this elusive touchstone. He began immediately to walk along the shoreline picking up one stone after another in his diligent and intentional search for the touchstone. He was consumed with this dream. He wanted desperately to find this miraculous stone, find his youth, vitality and abundant life again. However, after several days had gone by, he suddenly realized that he was picking up the same stones again and again. So he devised a plan. Pick up a stone, if it’s cold throw it into the sea. This he did for weeks and months.
Then one morning, he went out to continue his routine search for the touchstone. He picked up a stone; it was cold, so he threw it into the sea. He picked up another stone … cold! He threw it into the sea. He picked up another stone. It turned warm in his hands, but before he realized what he was doing … he threw it into the sea. Because of his habits, the routine of searching and lack of expecting anything different, his habits took over and what he wanted more than anything passed by and was lost forever.
Teacher touchstones are those individuals who can serve as renewal sources for their colleagues as well as their students. They are more than mentors in that the gifts they offer are beyond mere curriculum expertise. A true touchstone is a renewal point for others and can serve as a key ingredient in sustaining teacher longevity and stemming the flow of teacher turnover in schools.
If Rachel could be anything other than a writer she would be a life coach. Joseph Campbell said in his interview about the Power of Myth: “Your life becomes a manifestation of your character… the adventure the hero gets is the one he is ready for,” which he also claims that “even the environment will change to meet the hero's need.''
Rachel has studied and taught the heroic journey and is currently working on a book about it. Her first chapter is “Call to Adventure” where everything has to go wrong before it can go right. Rachel sees the experience of hard times as being in the "belly of the whale" and once you finally come to your truest self, the whale will spit you out into a new environment, which like Campbell said, is a "manifestation of character" The Greeks were right to instruct: “Know Thyself.”
Alice Walker once said in a panel discussion “Everyone wants to be free,” and Rachel writes that freedom is knowing oneself and not conforming or crossing over to the dark side. As Maslow said, “Be independent of the good opinion of others.” This is real freedom and power.
Rachel started this journey as a child with an unusual childhood that made her more observant to things that are often unseen by others. She had to sort herself out with self-help books at an early age-- she has read so many of them that she could write her own or yours. Rachel started meditating before it was popular, and so at a young age she started furtively practicing in her room, attracting and manifesting things like good jobs and boyfriends. (They really thought she was putting them under a spell.)
Then she followed the self-help movement from Tony Robbins to a mature mindfulness movement with Eckhart Tolle. Rachel is good at analyzing the ego and its behavior and the role it plays in relationships.
And whenever she feels a November in her soul, and feels never enough, she turns to Louise Hay or Marisa Peer for a self-esteem boost. Wayne Dyer and Abraham Hicks have also taught her to be a deliberate creator and that “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” (Dyer).
She has also recently discovered from a psychic/life coach, Heidi Sawyer, that she is an intuitive, sensitive person. Intuitive sensitive people typically suffer from narcissistic abuse, and not only do they become overly empathetic, but also deeply intuitive to the point where they absorb other people’s emotions and energy-- this is why she is good at writing other people's bios. However, more needs to be said about Sensitives and how they operate in society, and Rachel would be the one to do it.
Rachel has a wide range of knowledge when it comes to spirituality. In fact, she's working on chapters called “Dark Night of the Soul'' and “The Way of a Pilgrim,” in her memoir, which are stories about her conversion from being an East Texas Baptist to an Eastern Orthodox Christian. She writes about how spirituality leads to self-actualization, and how she's had to reconcile her issues with the “American Religion,” as the late Harold Bloom posited it in his work. This may be more academic than you want, but suffice it to say she learned all that “City on a Hill” stuff studying American literature and understands how it influenced America’s Biblical consciousness.
In addition, to knowing the Bible, Rachel, perhaps more importantly, knows how to contextualize it.
In the last few years, after leaving teaching, she devoted herself to the inner work and meditation that leads to transformation-- connecting her soul to source, creator, God, the universe-- whatever you want to call it (As Eckhart Tolle says, they are just labels anyway) and listened to countless explanations on ego and law of attraction. She has a working knowledge and knows the language for law of attraction through the lectures of Dr. Wayne Dyer and even, secretly, Abraham Hicks. She is interested in writing and learning about more about manifestation because she sees this as the key to opening resistant doors of opportunity.
Developed AP guide book, 110 pages, explaining every literary term and sentence structure imaginable to help students with instruction and build vocabulary.
Wrote blogs and web content for a new upcoming teacher support focused non-profit.
Wrote excellent bios for people she hardly knew.
Wrote a screenplay called "Hardy's Girl," based on a memoir that she has written over the last 2 years. It's about a teacher who fights the educational system because of her passion for literature.
Wrote hundreds of recommendation letters and college essays over the last 10 years, along with editorials--not to mention, her own academic and personal essays.
This is a sample of a Book Review
At first blush, reading Michelle Cummings' "The Reel Sisters" started off a little confusing. I had to keep checking to see if this book was really a novel or a memoir because the author’s voice was so obvious I thought I was reading a memoir on fly fishing, which is exactly what I heard the author say she was writing. So, is it a real or fictitious story? Is, perhaps, Reel sisters a pun for Real Sisters?
Unfortunately, this confusion typically happens when point-of-view is lacking. And I’m not trying to be critical or facetious-- I think Cummings' voice is lovely, but, nonetheless, it’s hers and not the character's, especially in the beginning. Since I began the book genuinely confused about who was telling the story, I once again checked out her youtube video: This time, I noticed at the end of her spiel that it sounded like she was promoting a how-to or self-help book, which carried over that didactic quality, making me feel like the storyline was doomed.
Once I moved on to another chapter, I understood that the point-of-view shifts from one character to another, which is a brilliant idea if the characters’ voices are distinct, which a few of hers are not. Though notably different in personality and personal conflict, their actual voice does improve as the plot picks up. The lost girl, Melody, found naked by the four women adds a little more punch and heart to the story, not to mention conflict, which is what I was afraid it would lack. However, I think voice continues to be the biggest weakness in the story. And yet, the book is not badly written, but it doesn’t quite show the connection and distinctions between the girl characters so much as tell you about them.
The book is about four women who connect and fall into a sort of comradery of fly-fishing. Obviously, this book would probably appeal to women who fly fish or to women who get into a rut in their lives from being the lifeline in everyone else’s and need someone for themselves to lean on. This is what I think I liked most about the story: By the time Rose, who seems to be the matron of the sisterhood, begins to share her slice of the tale, with her cute references to “stitch-n-bitch,” the voice becomes more distinct as the stories seem to weave in and out more congruently.
I waited for the allusion to "A River Runs Through It," and sure enough it came as swiftly as the waters, but the reference was to the movie and not the book. She, the author or character, Sophie, who we meet in the first chapter, is smitten with Brad Pitt’s fishing bod; I was always more smitten with Norman Maclean’s prose and believed he should get more credit for writing the story. But this story’s water does not go as deep as Maclean’s, and for that reason, I’d give it 2 stars.
However, it did have some redeeming moments too. Rose says, “grief is a funny thing: It’s an emotional process of letting go of that which is already gone.” So in the midst of tragedy, there is the archetype of the old, wise women teaching the lessons that she could only learn through living the hard way.
I was afraid there wouldn’t be enough conflict in this cozy sisterhood and then one tragic thing happens after another, showing the world as a dangerous place. The worry, the fear, the horror of growing up--the story leads us on to the theme: catch and release, once again a tale about letting go, something we women can’t get enough of, so we learn from each other, especially in our book club or knitting circle, or in this case, the fly fisherwomen.