Tuesday, 22 March 2011

'How can you tell me you're lonely?'

In my hotel room in London it was luxury to have ‘my stylist’ come to my room to dry my hair! Barrie  Stephens http://www.barriestephenhair.co.uk/home  admitted he did not know what to say to me – I told him he didn’t have to say a word and by giving me a pamper, that was more than words could say.
We obviously spoke about Clive and Barrie shared some of the stories of the impact he had made on some of his staff. I love to hear such things! We also shared how upset we are.
I was delighted with my ‘big hair’ and could have happily gone without make-up to dinner. I felt like a celeb being treated so well. That is twice since Clive died that I have been treated to a blow-wave. I recommend it ladies as a boost!
I had decided to wear the colourful, long dress from Monsoon that Clive had spotted last year when we were in York. He saw it on a dummy and immediately said that he wanted to see me in it. I had appeared from the changing room and he’d said he wanted to marry me right there and then! Don’t think Monsoon is licensed for that!

Whilst waiting for me to change I could hear him giving advice to another partner whose girlfriend was in and out of the changing rooms with an endless request ‘do I look fat in this?’ Each time the boyfriend replied in the same monotonous voice, ‘no, not really!’
What? You can imagine what Clive thought of them both! Where was her self-esteem? Where was his desire to make her feel good about herself? He was clearly bored. She desperately wanted to impress him. I would hazard a guess they are no longer together.
I never would appear out of a changing room if I did not feel good in an item of clothing. No amount of someone telling you it looks good will work if YOU don’t think so. All that will happen is that it will just hang in the wardrobe. That was good advice that a personal shopper once told me pre-Clive and it is true. He confirmed it. So ladies remember that, and guys, try to show some genuine interest!
The last time I wore this dress was on our cruise. I  love it! I did put make-up on and after a quick telephone call to Dom, I went to join the hairdressers. Ironically most of them were wearing black! I smiled at that. I was engulfed in a wave of support that was overwhelming in a positive way. People commented how shocked they were about Clive; how sorry; what an impact he’d had on them and how good I looked! Many mentioned this blog and how it was helping them and others they recommend it to. I  admit that I am stunned that it has had almost 12,000 views in the last month! Wow!
It was lovely to meet up with mine and Clive’s mutual speaker friend and colleague Molly Harvey, who was presenting the next day. As we spoke in the crowded reception area I swear a ‘space’ appeared at my left hand side and I could feel Clive’s arm around my waist! I felt warm, safe and proud I had come.

 Me, Ken West, Molly Harvey

We sat down for dinner which although was tasty, my appetite remains pathetic! I did try to eat something. Just before dessert Ken invited me up to say a few words. I got a standing ovation as I took the mike – before I said a word! Once again, unprepared I spoke for about 10 minutes! I began with the ‘pleasure’ story (see last posting) which got a laugh! I know how important it is to include humour in any presentation, especially when dealing with ‘heavy’ subjects – and let’s face it, my ‘subjects’ of postnatal depression and now bereavement aren’t exactly fun or sexy!
I did have an uplifting bra on and thought of Dinah in hers on Friday! Go girls – it really does make a difference.
I referred to Clive’s values again of choice, life-long learning, integrity, vision and enthusiasm and how much he enjoyed working with 365. http://www.365hair.com/ I thanked them for all the support and beautiful messages his family and I have received. I ended by emphasising that I had made a choice to join them tonight because Clive would have wanted me to and also that he would want us to remember him and his messages but also that we must have a fun evening too.
With that I got a huge round of applause and several lovely people telling me how much they missed Clive and his inspiration. Also that they need me to carry on blogging to inspire where he has left off! I shall do my best.
There was a disco although not many people danced – most moved to the bar to chat. I did have a couple of wriggles though including the oh-so-cheesy ‘I will survive’! Had to be done!
It was a lovely evening speaking to many who had been ‘touched’ by Clive. By 1 a.m. most had retired but I was still wide awake! A chap began to talk to me at the bar who I thought was part of our group - turned out that he wasn’t! It was an alien experience for me as a ‘single’ person. I was polite but made my excuses and went up to bed.
I took off my make-up, made myself a camomile tea, arranged my Clive pillows and cushions then checked my phone. There was a message telling me I was amazing. THAT did it! I sobbed into my tea with hot, chunky tears rolling down my face.
‘I don’t want to be amazing! I just want my Clive back!’
But all in all I reflected it had been a good day.

I must have slept for several hours (that’s a week now without tablets) and was awake when Molly rang to check I was alright. With that I tried to post the previous blog but could not get a strong enough signal. I got ready, packed and went with a heavy heart down to breakfast. My buoyant mood from yesterday had evaporated like steam on a shower screen.
We were efficiently ushered into taxis to take us to The Connaught Rooms – a very swish venue. http://www.principal-hayley.com/venues--hotels/grand-connaught-rooms.aspx Again many delegates hugged me and gave me their stories about Clive. This guy made an impact!
I was doing alright until I walked into the room where the stage and seats were set up. Wham! The reality that he should have been up there hit me. I thought of how today ‘should’ have gone – we would have gone to bed at a sensible time last night; he would have been up at 7 to have breakfast with Ken ( he always liked to do that with clients); he would come back and put his suit and shirt on and disappear to go to talk to the AV team. As a speaker he always used to make sure he did this- he gave them time and respect and likewise received it back. Often they were surprised to be treated as human beings! They say that often they are overlooked. But it is this team that can make or break what you do on the platform so support them and they will do likewise. Meanwhile I would stay in my supportive role of reassuring him that I was quite happy having a later breakfast, clearing the room and packing for us before mingling with the delegates. I never gave him added worry that he had to be responsible for me. I would quietly (yes I can be!) be there for him. Every now and then I’d feel his arm around my waist; get a warm smile from across the room or he’d mouth ‘I adore you’ to me. By the time he was on stage I would be puffed up like a proud peacock; hang on his every word and burst with pride as he received applause and often a standing ovation.
But today he wasn’t here. There were no looks across a crowded room. Just a feeling of emptiness in a buzzing room of people. Molly lifted me with her warmth and concern. I admitted I was struggling but vowed to stay. We are going to meet up very soon to look at my ‘plan’.
Proceedings began with excepts from Toy Story 3 about Barbie and Ken plus his dreams! Gulp! We had been to see this film when it came out and loved it. I managed to focus then on Ken West’s brilliant presentation. The theme was ‘Evolve’ – how we must change and adapt over time. He had me hooked! Of course it was geared to the salon owners but I applied it to myself. Yes, there are opportunities around me that I can use to move forward. I began to think – ‘how will I change?’
The principles he spoke of, e.g. appreciate true service, help each other and share, praise, develop, grow, all struck a chord with me.
He did a brilliant bit of ‘drama’ using a Wii mat and game to demonstrate the need for shared vision.
Next was MD of the Headmasters chain of salons http://www.hmhair.co.uk/. John Sanders is a very dynamic, charismatic man who shared his amazing story of building up to 40 salons with an aim of 100. He will get them!
This was followed by Stephanie Kocielski, Creative Director for Paul Mitchell from the USA. http://stephaniekocielski.com/  Another stunning presenter with an incredible, on-going success story of her own. She spoke of the need to be a good role model,
‘be a powerful example, not an example of power’ Bill Clinton.
She also said ‘Change the way you look at things the things you look at change’.
Two years ago at this equivalent event Clive had met the Paul Mitchell ‘big cheese’ Robert Cromeans. 
http://www.robertcromeans.com/the-man.html . Stephanie works directly with him. One of Clive’s ambitions was to have Robert do his hair for him.

In view of all the comments I got about Clive this quote of Robert’s that Stephanie used is very apt:-
‘It’s not about being remembered it’s about never being forgotten’.
Guess that’s how we feel about Clive.

I still felt flat at lunchtime inspite of all the positive presentations. I just missed him so much. I wanted to look up and see him ‘on form’ talking to people. I sat with Barrie, Ian and others who perked me up! Thanks guys xxx
There were some award presentations after lunch then Molly was on! http://www.mollyharvey.com/ Clive was so right to recommend her to 365. She quizzed us all with aspects to make us and our businesses improve. Her theme was ‘It’s possible’.
I have taken lots of notes but right now I am struggling with them. I know I have to accept the change in my life due to Clive’s death. I will take it all on board when I feel brighter.
After hugs, thank yous and farewells I got a cab back to King’s Cross. I wish now I had gone back to Mums instead but I haven’t. 

I met up with Natalia from http://www.greatvine.com/ . I am registered as one of their experts to give telephone advise to those affected by postnatal illness. Just before Clive died I had been invited to represent Greatvine through Prima Baby magazine. This is a fantastic opportunity for me and one I have put on ice. Talking to Natalia reignited my passion and I shall be going ‘live’ with my support in the next few weeks and be featured in one of the next Prima Baby magazines. Being recognised as a national expert is exciting!

I then had an hour before my train. My mission – find wi-fi to post my blog for yesterday. It took me a while to find a place – Pret a Manger. That reminded me of Clive. He had written his ‘How to take life by the throat and say I’m not done yet’ at their cafe in the McArthur Glen Outlet Village at York. He wrote best when out of the office at home.
I began to panic as it took ages to connect but successfully posted it. I hadn’t eaten and then rushed to get my train only to discover there is wi-fi on the train! Aargh! I was cross at myself for wasting time.
Once on the train I have just written all of this. I am really not very happy. I could easily burst into tears. I was great on the outward journey but now I am faced with not being met at the station. I could have asked for a lift but decided not to. I simply have to get used to this journey. I have to get used to getting to and from places on my own. Right now I am very scared, frightened, drained, exhausted and alone.
Have I been too tough on myself tonight? Am I expecting too much of myself? On the other hand all I am doing is getting off a train. All I am doing is getting a bus home. It will be warm, with lights on. A smiling picture of Clive waiting for me. Maybe some more cards?
What would Clive tell me now?
  • ·         He’d say that I’d made my choice not to get a lift – deal with it!
  • ·         He’d remind me that I have just had a brilliant trip that I should congratulate myself for.
  • ·         That very soon I will be tucked up in our bed with a ‘see – I did it and it wasn’t too bad’ satisfaction.
  • ·         That I have got Internet at home that I sorted all by myself so I can have a Facebook fix when I get in.
  • ·         That he is proud of me and that I should be – I could have chosen to opt out these last two days – instead I took it all head on.
Woo hoo! I just checked Facebook on my Blackberry! You guys are brilliant! I see how I got Bob’s book now via Jeanette – a prime example of ‘The Power of Who’. You tell me that I inspire you – well you do me! Thank you!

 What have I learnt today:

1.       A blow-dry from a professional is a guaranteed pick me up.
2.       Surrounding yourself with people who loved your deceased partner is wonderful.
3.       Listening to top quality presenters is so powerful and motivating.
4.       That when you are down – reach out.

Time to pack up and get off the train ...

As the train pulled into Leeds I felt a huge sadness. The door slid open and I told myself to be calm. That this will make me strong, independent and proud.
I was about to heave my case onto the platform when it became miraculously light. A gentleman had has hand on it, smiled at me and said 'let me help you with that'.
A random act of kindness.
An incredible message of hope and strength.
I wanted to hug him and tell him my life story! As he strode off I had to stop myself from a sob! Instead I smiled. I chose to believe that it was from Clive.
I wandered out to the 'free bus stop'. It stops at 7.30! Oh no! I decided to walk the 10 minutes through the city to the bus station.  Exercise, I thought. This will all make me strong, independent and proud.
A homeless young man politely stopped me. He showed me his badly infected leg and explained he needed a few pounds to get a bed in a hostel tonight and get it cleaned and dressed. Clive had respect for the homeless so I gave him a few pounds. How could I deny kindness when someone had just shared one with me? In a flash the Ralph McTell song came to mind. And just look where it starts!!!!

Another message? Yes I am down tonight but I am going home to a beautiful house.

So ''how can you tell me you're lonely?'

What? When Facebook has such beautiful messages for me? When my phone is full of 'are you alright' messages?

Thank you Clive. You have just shown me that I have help all around me.
You have shown again the power of a simple act of kindness.

What can you do today that will make it better for someone else and in doing so will make it better for you?

Elaine x

P.S. I am now home safe, tucked up in bed - strong (ish), independent (ish) and PROUD. 

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