Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Me and a room of 29 men!

Well I had enjoyed being wined and dined by three men on Monday evening ... last night I was with 29!

I had a very pleasant morning in York with Clive's sister Lynn. I actually got a new pair of sandals - not an easy feat for me! We had a scrumptious home-made bagel in 'The Hairy Fig' cafe. Yummy! I drove her home roof down, shades on and both of us singing along to my favourite 'Just the way you are' by Bruno Mars. Fab!

I spent the afternoon with Chris and Mary from and Pete Evans from Altum-V who is kindly helping both myself and the Foundation.

I got ready and Chris and I went to the George Hotel in Huddersfield to present to the Huddersfield Pennine Rotary Club. 

It reminded me of the first 'spontaneous' talk I had to do. Thirty years ago I was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Runcorn to attend a three week Outward Bound course in Wales. I loved it! We walked, climbed, did water sports, Adventure courses, a four day expedition - finishing with cream crackers, strawberry jam and tuna for our final breakfast! On the course in the trees my major challenge had been to run across a horizontal beam with nothing to hold onto. It took some cajoling but I finally did it. For many years when faced by a challenge I used to picture that log and remind myself I COULD do something. These last weeks I have been faced by many of these!

After the course I was invited to go back 'and tell a few of the Rotarians' about it. I expected two or three. I arrived at the lunchtime venue to be placed on top table in front of around 50 members. As the meal progressed Mr. President turned to me and asked,
"Tell me Miss Walsh, how long is your talk?"
At 17, off the cuff I delivered a successful 30 minutes presentation to a room of middle-aged men. An excellent start to what was to come ..

In contrast last night should have been easier. However, one of this Rotary club members was Samuel Smith, the loving father of Joanne Bingley, who took her own life last year and for whom the Foundation I am a trustee of. He had asked Chris and I to talk to his fellow Rotarians about our work.

Chris, me and Mr. President
Chris did an overview of the reasons behind the Foundation and I followed with my story. As I spoke I outlined how I suffered like Joanne and had geography been different I too could have ended my life when I was so distressed. I found a church doorway - had a motorway or railway line been in the way, who knows. I also stressed how I am even more passionate about avoiding deaths and unhappiness now I know first hand what the pain of loss really feels like, in life without Clive.

As a charity we received gratefully a donation which will fund more of informative 'z-cards'. Thank you.

It was a pleasure to meet Sam. Knowing the happiness baby Sophie and her Mum Claire have brought us these last 16 months magnifies what Joe's family are mourning and missing. My heart goes out to them all. I just wanted to hug Sam and not let go. Losing my Clive has blown me apart but losing your child at any age is worse.
Me and Sam
I remembered some research I had done for a Samaritans conference I spoke at a couple of years ago, where the theme was supporting those left behind after a suicide. People are even more unsure of how to react to the bereaved in those circumstances. I found some useful sites and information on this here

In particular I thought that this website had some good tips on helping.  such as 'What to Say',

  • Knowing what to say to the bereaved can be the biggest challenge. A few guidelines are listed below:
  • try not to say 'committed' suicide. This harks back to a time when suicide was a crime and some bereaved people find it distressing. You can say died by suicide, suicided, took their life 
  • do not use clich├ęs and platitudes to try and comfort by saying things like 'you're so strong', 'time will heal', 'he's at peace now', 'you have other children', 'you'll get married again' or 'I know how you feel.' While well-intentioned, they rarely comfort and can leave the bereaved person feeling misunderstood and more isolated 
  • don't avoid the subject of suicide. This can create a barrier making it hard for them to discuss personal issues later 
  • avoid judgements about the person who suicided such as saying they were selfish, cowardly or weak, or even brave or strong. People need to come to come to their own understanding of the person and what has happened 
  • avoid simplistic explanations for the suicide. Suicide is very complex and there are usually many contributing factors 
  • listen and hear their experience 
  • be truthful, honest and aware of your limitations: acknowledge if you don't understand or know how to react to what they are going through 
  • say the name of the person who has died and talk about them. Not saying their name can leave the bereaved feeling as though the one who died is being forgotten or dismissed 
  • be aware of those who are grieving who may be forgotten, for example, children, grandparents, friends 
  • ask "How are you getting along?" and then really listen to the response. Stay and hear and try to understand. Allow the person to speak whatever they need to however difficult and complex it is.
I truly hope that our presentation has gone some way into helping Sam's colleagues in Rotary realise how his beautiful and incredible daughter could take her life. I also help it will encourage others to offer the support that the family and others like them need. I know how much comfort and pleasure I get from other people talking to me about their memories of Clive. Often it is just nice 'to be' and share in silence, lost in memories.

Chris teased me last night that we have a sibling relationship! We do and long may it continue along with our sitting together and reminiscing about our lost loves as well as our hopes for the future. Love you heaps Bro!!

Are you attached to a Rotary or Inner Wheel Club who may like us to pop along?

Elaine x

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Clive Gott legacy?

I feel really good tonight! Why? I suppose it could be called the Clive Gott legacy!

Why? Several things. I got up earlier to do some 'office time' so I could enjoy a few hours of sunshine in the back garden. Clive would do this so he could enjoy his beloved golf. He'd say 'guilt is an emotion you choose to accept' and 'you can only feel guilty if you have knowingly done something wrong'. If you are self-employed it is down to YOU to organise yourself. Who says it has to be 9 - 5?

I had a shower and sorted a problem out! For the last week the shower tray hasn't been draining. Oh dear! 'A man' job. Well I had spotted in the garage a can of drain cleaner - job sussed! Clive used to say every day was 'a day at school' and one of his values was life long learning. That was mine today (so far) and I was proud of myself.

I put on the dress Clive had got me on our idyllic day in Rhodes town last September on our cruise. One of our favourite places and where we got two prints for the lounge which we based the whole 'new look' on. 

Just wearing this dress on a very hot day cheered me today.

I had also listened to this Lionel track today. Clive often said his 'job was to keep my baby smiling'.

Now he would want 'to reduce the pain'.

I got the bus into Leeds (easier and less hassle than driving) and went to take my accounts to Roy at Virtual FD.  I am feeling increasingly 'in control' of my business, finances, etc. because if I don't no-one else will. I have to and am taking responsibility!

Next was a wonderful meeting with kindred spirits! No, they weren't wearing turquoise dresses but very quickly it was apparent that we shared many values, goals and visions. Pete Evans from Altum V had felt that his contacts Mike Coote and Dave Evans from  would be of mutual interest.

I was in my element being a female taken out for dinner with three men! We met at the impressive . Delightful surroundings, delicious food, charming staff!
As we chatted (well I did!) about our respective lives, business, etc. I began to realise just how much strength I have gained in recent weeks. My chip that 'I wasn't good enough' for corporate audiences has evaporated based on the positive reactions I have received in recent weeks.

I am very content with how things are progressing as I know I have a rite of passage as a speaker. No-one will book me to do a keynote just because I was Clive's partner. I have to earn that right. Little by little I am doing so with a far more generic talk.

How my journey will progress with Mike and Dave remains to be seen but it was stunning how much we seemed to agree on. My vision is to be able to earn enough to be comfortable but also to enable me to then give my time for free to those who haven't the funds but would benefit from my messages. Their vision was similar.

I left the restaurant totally inspired and excited. I had more texts whilst on the bus which made me smile - thanks Paul. x

The bus stopped outside one of our local pubs and some friends were sitting outside. I jumped off and enjoyed a drink and chat with some of the 'Tad' crowd. As I walked home I chatted to Dom and Mum. Perfect!

Just before I left home this afternoon I had received a newsletter for Clive. I replied to the sender informing them of Clive's death. The response back was beautiful about how inspiring Clive had been and one of those rare people who touch your life and you never forget them. As I stepped inside tonight he sent me a further message so I gave him a ring. How refreshing to actually pick up the phone and say 'hello'.

I took off my dress and am now wearing one of Clive's short sleeved shirts. I better not say what he thought of me doing that - my Mum reads this!!  I feel exceptionally close to him tonight. Yet in a deep, grateful and  proud way - for both of us.

Meeting Clive Gott turned my life upside down (and that of my family). I am now on a new chapter of growing and new relationships, opportunities and experiences. It feels like I am using the best of us both.

I have a calendar on the kitchen wall which has a photo of Clive for each month. It is exactly the right height for me to stand on tip-toe to kiss! It's the one photo I speak to, sob to, shout at and sigh at.

Tonight, wearing his shirt, I stretched up, kissed him and said 'Thank you'.

N nite,

Elaine x 


After posting early on Sunday morning I began to search on You Tube for more songs! Oh dear! Silly me! Why do I torture myself? It's almost an addiction - find songs and images that remind me of the love and life I have lost and cry buckets and wail the unanswerable question 'why?'

Here is an example!

Finally I went to bed with tiny, red eyes and slept. When I awoke I chose NOT to put Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs on. Time to focus on all the good things ahead. I nipped to Sainsbury's to get food for 'my sale'. I made some buns (no, not cupcakes!), bread (well the machine did), and ribs and chicken wings to do in the oven. Easy and stress free. I didn't really know how many were coming so it could all freeze if it was just me.

The dining room was covered in toiletries, jewellery, books etc. I was buzzing. I love entertaining and Clive and I had also become a good team at it too.

Eventually I was happy enough with all my prep and decided to enjoy the sun. I got my iPod and to my horror it is blank! All my albums - gone! No matter, resync with iTunes. Oh no! That is all blank too! Dom I need your help!

Oh well still have Lionel on Blackberry. I settled down on my lounger with a smile. Then wham! The realisation that the last time I did this was on our cruise. We were so content with each other. More tears. I know Clive would not want me to be so upset but I still can't help it.

And how do you get suntan stuff in the middle of your back when it's just you?!

I began to relax then bit by bit my phone was red hot with people cancelling. They were all valid reasons but it was the amount! By 3 o'clock I was feeling disappointed that I had spent hours to prepare and what for?

My friend Sharon offered to come early. Within 5 minutes of her company I decided that it really didn't matter. I had enjoyed it. We had a select group but what a happy, fun, warm and loving afternoon and evening it was.

I sold a few bits but what was important was friendship. We had sunshine, food, drink and many laughs. If Clive was watching he'd have been pleased. Especially as I put my new bikini top and shorts on!

Dinah commented on the noise of Mark cutting the grass - one of her favourite sounds. That got us in the sensory mode! Just talking about it we all were calm and serene! We all shared our favourite sensations in an idea of an 'orgasmabooth'!! Just to make you feel good nothing more! What would be in yours?

Some of ours included cheesecake, suede, children's laughter.

It took me ages to clear up but I did so happily. By 10 all the house and garden was 'back to normal' and I sat out with a glass of wine and strawberries reflecting on a enjoyable time.

I ended my day with a cool shower, some of Glastonbury and a smile. Thanks girls, love you lots xxx

And what have we got today? SUNSHINE


Elaine x

Sunday, 26 June 2011

A Bridget evening....

I have just come upstairs to bed after watching Bridget Jones. Although I am tired I know I won't sleep immediately so I thought I'd reflect on today..

Apart from one visitor briefly this morning I have had a day completely to myself. It is still a 'new' experience for me. Dom has been at his cousin's wedding today - I hope Patrick and Laura have had an amazing day and I wish them a lifetime of happiness.

When I awoke I felt lucky at the thought I could choose whatever I wanted to do. I spent ages sorting out my 'sale' of jewellery, toiletries, etc. which have been just laying in the spare room for ages. Bargains to be had so I hope enough ladies turn up later today.

I have also cut the back lawn. My first attempts at that were long and frustrating and I kept getting tangled in the flex! As they say, practice makes perfect.

I chose to have a 'staying in day'. I answered a few emails but wanted to stay out of the office really.

I made myself a proper meal tonight and had a glass of wine with it. I also got on with an Arran cardigan I am knitting for baby Sophie. I sat on the settee wearing Clive's dressing gown for a change and to feel close to him. I was content on my own. How can I expect anyone else to love me one day again if I can't love being with myself?

Then Bridget Jones came on ITV. Why do we still watch a film with the adverts even if we have it on DVD?!

I laughed at the opening credits of 'All by Myself'! I found myself laughing out loud at bits of the film. I never used to laugh so openly until I grew to love Clive. His emotions watching a film were totally obvious! He'd cry buckets (Marley and Me), fidget and mutter if bored  and bring the house down when amused. He was often more fun to watch than a film. He liked 'chick flicks' too.

I was fine until the last minutes of the build up to 'the kiss' with this song playing.

It reminded me of how Clive said many, many times that he had had his 'last first kiss' as our relationship grew.  He was right. There is something very exciting and yet scary about it.
Perhaps one day I will be scooped up in a tall man's arms again.

Perhaps I might be blessed to find another special man who makes my eyes sparkle like he did, as in this photo taken on a desert ride. And if I don't, then I know that I have experienced the 'highs' they depict in the films.

Who or what makes your eyes sparkle?

N nite,

Elaine x

Saturday, 25 June 2011

An evening with gold candelabras!

As is usual the day after a 'big' talk and drive I was rather drained. So I was good to myself and had a leisurely start to the day and a pamper.

I was also a mix of giddy and terrified! Why? I had agreed to step in for an event Clive had been asked to do. It was the centenary celebration and awards evening for the Chartered Institute of Marketing in Leeds. I had never done 'after dinner' speaking before and it was to be in memory of Clive.

My approach? No Powerpoint, just 30 minutes to speak. I briefly spoke about Clive; my story; our story; his Celebration and then my key lessons since his death. These included aspects around choice, connections and caring.

I had my hair done and my nails, slipped on a dress and set off for Leeds. I was early so had a little mooch in some shops before going into the venue - the impressive Club LS1.

The room was stunning with the tables set in a large square and gold candelabras at each corner. The CIM members and venue staff were all very welcoming.

The food was beautiful but I wasn't really hungry due to butterflies in my tummy! Good adrenalin.

I stood up at 9 and was delighted with the reactions of the audience. I know I did myself and Clive proud. So I can add another keynote to my portfolio!

Another one done!
Here I am with Edward Ryder, the incoming Chair, and Robert Healey, the outgoing one. 

It was a very good evening and I am so pleased I said 'yes'. It was the best choice to have made!
Thank you CIM for a special evening.

Happy Saturday!

Elaine x

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Remember the importance of YOU!

I drove over to spend yesterday evening with Dom and my parents after having 'earned' time off after completing my presentation for Amsterdam next week for Arkin Mental Healthcare. I was pleased with what I had done.

Then I got a call to say it was off! The Dutch mental health workers are on strike next Wednesday, the day I was booked! An hour or so later I had another call to say the dinner I was due at tonight was also off! My lip was out. After a while I realised that I now have another keynote prepared, i.e. one which gives an overview of the NHS plus 'what matters to patients'. I have learnt a few things myself by researching for it so that is positive. Perhaps they will reschedule too? Today I already had two things on so maybe an early night would be better?

After watching 'Waterloo Road' with Mum and Dom I took him home and drove back to Tadcaster. It was a tough journey and seemed a long way. We all are busy the next couple of weeks so not sure when we get to meet up again.

This morning I was up early to drive down to Nottingham. I spoke to some student midwives there, a regular booking of mine. I appreciate the opportunity to share my messages with them, including treating others how you would wish to be treated but also to remember the importance of 'you'. So often we forget that we HAVE to look after ourselves first so that we can care for others. I told them about the request I had made when Clive died about buying a bunch of flowers for themselves or someone else in his memory.

I gave every ounce of passion I had! I always think that even if one of those students goes on to treat one patient in a kinder way as a result of listening to me, then it is worth it. One student said afterwards how much I had inspired them - they had been feeling disheartened after their recent exams and feelings of self-doubt had crept in. I changed that today for them and encouraged their believe in themselves again. I was thrilled with that reaction and left on top of the world.

I got back in the car and instantly sobbed my heart out! Why? Because I didn't have Clive to text and share my pride and joy with. We had a mutual admiration society together. It's not about being conceited, it's about understanding the massive adrenalin buzz you get after a delivery like that. You are so excited you could burst and want to make it last.

I called a couple of people who would understand - no reply. So I posted a pathetic line on Facebook. Within minutes I got supportive replies which really helped, then rang one of them. I have to say that is a big advantage of social networking - you can always find someone.

I also practised what I had just advised the students - 'feel good' time! 'Kylie' was put on full blast! I stopped at Woodall Services on the M1 and had a Happy Meal! A further chat with my dear friend and colleague Ann and I was on the 'up' again.

Next stop was a meeting with a 'colleague of a colleague' at the impressive Tankersley Hotel . We parted a couple of hours later as friends. I listened and advised her about a few issues and found myself sounding just like Clive. A little later she text me to say 'thank you for sharing and giving your wisdom'. I appreciated that. Clive often used to say that 'knowledge was knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad'!

Back on the M1 I had a choice. Home? Or do I go to Meadow Hall shopping centre in search of a bikini for my mini-break in the sun? I suddenly felt free! It really WAS up to me. I had no-one waiting for me. Dom was revising for his physics exam tomorrow. My planned evening had been cancelled so shopping it was.

I parked by Debenhams as a couple of years ago after I had been myself a few times to get one and returned empty-handed, Clive had gone with me, walked into that store and within 60 seconds picked out one which fitted perfectly - job done! I think I have said before how he had this knack. I could wander for hours for a dress. For shoes. For a coat. All to no avail. Then he'd come out with me a bingo! Sorted. I mooch like Goldilocks - things are too big, too small, wrong colour, too expensive, etc. etc.

I looked at the rails in Debenhams. Wrong size. Wrong style. Wrong colour .....

I looked in a couple of others. Same story. Finally In House of Fraser I found one and it was in the sale.  Hooray! I tried it on. Let's just say that my bosom requires more than a knotted hanky!!

Dejected I came out of the store and sat on a bench. Yo!Sushi in front of me, Apple centre to my left - Dom's favourite stores. I saw couples together. I felt a useless shopper. I felt like a lost soul. The 'freedom' I had felt changed to a self-pitying 'no-one cares where I am'.  I was tired. I was hungry. I was drained. Why am I so tough on myself?

I was about to burst into tears when, as if on cue, I got a text which simply said 'Good day?' That was all I needed!

I chatted to Mum for a bit and told her my thought that I missed someone to care about me. Ooops

I love my Mum! The lady I had met today had lost her Mum when she was only 7. That is so sad. My Mum is also a best friend too. A few times she has suggested Richard Marx songs for my blog. I came across this one tonight ...

Seems appropriate too having shared part of today with ladies who will have a big role in assisting other ladies into the magic of motherhood.

A little pep talk was just the tonic. I went into M & S and munched a toasted sandwich and answered another few texts from different people asking if I was okay ... shame on me!

I had a gorgeous text of appreciation from the lady I had spent the afternoon with and I reminded her 'remember the importance of YOU'.

As I wrote it I took note and promptly bought myself a bunch of red roses. Hadn't I told others to be good to themselves? I have to be authentic. With a renewed focus I grabbed some bikinis in M & S. Right size. Right colour. Right price. Yayyy! I went into the changing rooms thinking positively. A few minutes later I emerged. Wrong body!

Oh well, back home. I had to pass the bikinis in Debenhams en route back to the car. Oh. I hadn't noticed that spotty one before (on the end of a rail, in the sale). Oh. I hadn't seen that one with sparkly bits on before.....

I tried on three. Loved the spotty one and promptly bought it!!! I have giggled and shook my head at myself the whole way home. I could just see Clive doing likewise in frustration at me.

On reflection I have 'given' much today. My roses are now proudly on the mantelpiece, I have a new bikini which I feel good in and the contentment that I inspired and made a difference today.
Clive would have said I'd 'made it count'.

Did you make today count? Did YOU remember the importance of YOU?

 I shall slip into bed now, smiling.

N nite,

Elaine x

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Where do you think best?

I had an indulgent bath late last night, with bubbles, candles, music, the lot! I put Magic FM on and the first song they played as I soaked was 'Tears in Heaven'! Yes, I had a little weep and remembered how Clive would set up this treat for me. Yet by the next track I was singing along, enjoyed some late night texts with a friend and snuggled down to bed and sleep.

Then I woke so early! Perhaps I need to change my thinking on sleep? Maybe I don't need as much as I used to and instead of viewing it as a big issue, just chill and go with the flow.

One of my emails I sent resulted in a brilliant reply today. Thanks Kevin for this comment,

Truth is losing people who are really close has no simple rules as you will know, but hopefully goes from raw pain and bewilderment to a wonderful and gentle melancholy over time, when the joy of having known them overrides the pain of having lost them.

Wow! Love that bit about the 'wonderful and gentle melancholy'. Maybe that is the phase I am drifting into?

Another friend told me this morning of how, half-dressed, she had sat on the stairs wondering why she was about to go and do a job she simply did not like. She gets no fulfilment from it. After thinking along the lines of 'why do anything that you are not passionate about' has gone off to change things. Go girl!

This reminded me of this little ditty ...

I have just spent this morning sorting my talk for Amsterdam.  Feeling pleased so off for some fun.

So I leave you with this thought ..

1. What are you putting up with that with some positive action you could change for the better?
2. Where do you think best?

Feel free to share the places with us all!

Elaine x

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

What's your vision?

I was going to go for a candle-lit bath (to follow) but I suddenly got all giddy! Why? I just had a dance around the lounge watching a Kylie concert on Sky! Wow! Next time she is in town I want front row tickets please!  I defy you not to at least wiggle a toe ...

Today I began by being kind to me! I was up very late last night writing my blog and it was after 2 when I finally slept. The recycling vans woke me this morning but I decided to 'stay put'.  I made a few arrangements then had a sort of my make-up and jewellery ahead of my 'sale' on Sunday. 

I did a few office bits but then headed south to a small village called South Milford. En route I had the radio on and heard a quip that made me laugh out loud:-

Wife to husband doing a crossword, 'Egg on ....?'
Husband, 'Urge?'
Wife, 'Oh! I put toast'.

It seemed funny at the time.

Although South Milford is only a few miles from Tadcaster it is a road I had only been on a few times in the last three years I have been around here. It felt new. Unfamiliar. I wasn't sure where I was going yet I was enjoying the ride. I reflected on my 'new' life. I suppose that is how it feels. I could chose safe and easy options, e.g. move back to my parents. Go back to teaching full time or find a regular job. It still hurts so much without Clive but I have to move on. I have to push the boundaries, make an effort. The world won't come to me - I have to go to it.

Today it was to a hidden gem of a nursery and tea gardens. What a quirky place! Linda and I shared an afternoon tea which lasted almost three hours! 
There were even sweets in the toilet 'room' and armchairs!! The food was scrumptious too.  More talks in the pipeline too ...  why oh why would I go back to teaching???

I returned home to the post. BT still haven't changed Clive's name from the bill even though I have paid the bill for weeks and asked on several occasions if they could please change it. I dialled the 'help' number. Is it just me or is it SO annoying when all you get are numbers and recorded messages? Is it just me that after 6 attempts you just scream 'Give me a person'?! After 15 wasted minutes I sent an email.

The phone rang . A slight delay and a foreign accent asked if they could speak to 'a Mr Clive Gott'. I said that I was sorry that he had died recently. They just hung up! No 'sorry'. Nothing.

Next letter was from the travel insurance company as a result of me cancelling our cruise and another trip. I had sent loads of information, got two forms signed from the GP but it seems that isn't enough. Aaaargh! 

Not quite as bad as a travel company who I asked to change a booking due to Clive having died. They honestly asked to speak to him! I repeated again that he had passed away. Their response was that they had to speak to the person who had placed the booking. I almost had to yell on the fourth attempt that he had gone and I didn't have a direct dial to Heaven!!

I could have let such niggles get to me but instead I got engrossed in a 'mountain' that needed to be conquered. My Inbox said I had 752 unopened emails. I started at the bottom and answered some. I then came across those that Clive had sent me the days before he died.

He had sent me this a day or so before his knee operation.

'Up and in the gym at 6...hmmm.  So much for a lie in.  Going to walk doggy now but wanted to share something with you.

I am writing some notes up from the journal I kept when climbing Aconcagua.  On 22nd February 2007 I woke up after a great night’s sleep and wrote this... 

“I woke this morning feeling very strange.  I have been single now for a few years and today that doesn’t fit well with me.  This morning I woke after another lovely night’s sleep and I wanted to hug somebody.  It would have been nice to have tea and a ‘cuddle’ in bed.  I have decided that I want a partner who will go about her business while I go about mine and we will share our news at night.  I want to watch DVD’s on my 2-person sofa with wine and chocs.  I want to walk and talk, go to a movie or a club.  I want to steal a beer on a Saturday afternoon.  I want to share holidays and mini adventures.  I want someone to miss if they go away and someone who misses me if I go away.  I want all of this and more and I will find it because I have too much to give to waste.”

I guess I have it now ey?  Create a vision has a whole new meaning now baby

I adore you.  Enjoy your boy and your family today.

Your getting on with stuff knight.'

He describes perfectly what I miss now and what we had created. This was why he loved this song and dedicated to me.

Next I began to look at the countless messages which I will share when I have asked permission.

Tonight I didn't cry as I read them. I swelled with love, pride and admiration for the great man he was and admired by so many.

I felt honoured to have shared his final years and moments with him. I also found this picture sent by David Ward . The last platform Clive stood on was at the Palace Hotel in Manchester to present this award at a Housing Associations event.

I think this is his final picture. Little did we all know that 8 days later he'd be gone.

Little by little I reduced the numbers, giving myself a new 'hundred' to aim for. Two hours later I had given my inbox a major clean with no unopened or duplicated items.

Each day now I will begin at the bottom and start to answer them, little by little, step by step. I was so engrossed I ignored the phone and texts to check I was okay!

By 8 pm. I was weary and gave up. Strict instructions to myself to 'rest'. I had the final bowl of soup we had made two days before Clive died. Then I found Kylie. As the light faded my desire to dance grew! I also took another step forward .. I love this photo of Dom on Facebook.....

So I actually took one of the many pictures of Clive out of a frame and put this in instead!

I am determined to sleep tonight so bath and candles now ....

I have a new vision to work on ...

Sweet dreams,

Elaine x

Improving Perinatal Mental Health Care - conference 8th July

If you are interested in Perinatal Mental Health this event is a MUST!

The speakers are amongst the best in the world on this topic and all at the bargain price of £40.

I hope to see you there along with my colleagues from the Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation.

West Midlands Perinatal Research Conference Friday 8th July 


West Midlands Marce Perinatal Mental Health Conference –
Improving Perinatal Mental Health Care

9.30 Welcome, introduction and housekeeping  - Giles Berrisford / Jess Heron

Chair: Femi Oyebode – Current knowledge and new research

9.45 Normal emotional changes, the baby blues and postnatal highs -Carol Henshaw
10.15 Postpartum Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder in the perinatal period  - Ian Jones 

10.45 BREAK

11.15 Identifying Postnatal Depression -  John Cox
11.45 The 2011 Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths  - Margaret Oates
12.15 Considering BME issues in perinatal mental health care  - Dawn Edge

12.45 LUNCH

Chair: John Cox – Improving Perinatal Mental Health Care

1.30 Exercise and Postnatal Depression -  Amanda Daley
1.45 Peer support in postnatal mental illness - Sukhi Sembi
2.00 Perinatal mental illness, medication and the infant  - Joe McCleery
2.15 Predicting bipolar disorder relapse in the postpartum period  - Kathryn Doyle
2.30 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the postpartum  - Debbie Carrick Sen
2.45 Supporting fathers during perinatal admission  - Sarah Sandell

3.00 BREAK

3.30 Workshop Sessions
A: Ethical issues in perinatal mental health care – What about dad?
Giles Berrisford, Heather Draper, Mary McGuinness, Geoff Allcock

B: The campaign for Mother and Baby Units – What can we do?
Renuka Lazarus, Caroline Carr, Nicola Muckelroy, Jess Heron

C: Supporting children: parenting, safeguarding & infant massage session.
 Jenny Whitmore, Marjorie Allen, Hayley Grainger, TBC.

4.30 Closing remarks & action points: Research collaboration and a Perinatal Mental Health Managed Care Network in the West Midlands Giles Berrisford / Jess Heron

5.00 CLOSE

What are you waiting for? Get booking and please share with your networks!
Registration form 

This time last year ...

I have been in bed for an hour but just could not sleep. I have had a busy, productive and enjoyable day. Maybe I haven't relaxed enough and why now I can't 'switch off' so I decided to get up again! I had a long chat to Mum who was concerned that I was upset as the last few blogs have been a bit down and no posting today! My reason - too busy.

I was up, showered, presentable all by 9 a.m. this morning and in my office. I had various things to sort as regards Clive's estate and just 'got on'. Dealing with such things does upset me but it has to be done. I have to remind myself of his advice when faced by a challenge -' It's happened - deal with it.'

Mid-morning I had a visit from his nephew Nick, baby Teagan, partner Sharon and Dad Tony. I had the photos and DVD Dom had made at Teagan's christening for them. A baby cuddle always cheers me up! I had a lovely few minutes with her gazing at our reflections in the lounge mirror. Clive would have been very proud to see Nick as a father.

Me, Malcolm, Lynn and baby Teagan
I then spent time preparing my talk for student midwives in Nottingham and being busy and organised. Yet suddenly a wave of  'too much to do' hit me. I was on the verge of tears but decided to change my thinking and move, so I had a walk to post my letters. The warm sunshine soothed me. Walking on paths I had been on many times with Clive made me smile today. I thought of him trying but failing to run along the pavement last summer when we had forgotten our tickets for the races in York and he'd gone back for them whilst I waited at the bus stop. He had admitted then that his knees were shot at.

Next 'feel good' factor was a fish finger sandwich for lunch! My weight is creeping back up but I don't want it to. Today maybe wasn't a good day to count calories.

I returned to the office and buzzed for a few more hours, sorting my talk for Friday in Leeds. Then I had very pleasant hour in the back garden with a new friend who had called to collect something from me.

Within minutes our friends Nip and Ellie came with a McDonalds for tea! No wonder I feel stuffed tonight! It was really good to chat with them. A tree has been planted in memory of Clive at one of the golf courses. His golfing chums pay their respects when they play - cheers, guys - he'd love that!

By the time they left it was almost dark and I had a quick neighbourly chat.  I answered a few of hundreds of emails and decided that those sent after 10.30 are far too sad so switched off! Then had my chat with Mum. That was today!

I snuggled into bed and reflected on today. Yes, I feel stronger. Yes, little by little I am making progress. I am meeting new people and part of me is very excited about my new future. The other part remains so sad, lost, broken hearted and robbed of my man. Perhaps this is why I can't sleep?

After half an hour of just laying in the darkness I chose to read my journal for 'this time last year'.
It made me smile and glow with appreciation for the romance we had. Clive had been on a Richmond Events mini-cruise, showcasing to HR directors. He had returned triumphant with amazing feedback. I helped him with 'follow-ups' and putting his new contacts on our database.

Yet the memory which really made me smile was his worry this equivalent night last year. He had been so confident with his corporate audiences days earlier but was looking forward to a session with school children in Northwich the next day until he realised they were 6 year olds! Bless him! He was almost pacing the floor! What would he do with them? Would they listen? Could he use Powerpoint? How many would there be?

I was quietly amused as a teacher! He had seen me in a similar frame of mind about some corporate audiences and he'd reassured me 'piece of cake'. My turn to say 'ditto'. Constructively I suggested 'props' and appealing to their senses. What about taking his huge boots and duvet jacket for them to try on? His sand and sweat stained MDS T-shirt from his desert race? I could see his mind racing and it was him who was restless all that night.

He left with the car bulging with 'stuff'. I was 'with him' in spirit all day. When he arrived back he was on a complete high! Clive had taken his new toy from the ship with him. What had transpired was on a theme of bullying - he converted a whole class to face it with this in mind .....

He'd had them dancing on tables! I was so proud of him and adored seeing his reaction to the children. It was a privilege to be at home waiting for him to share his enthusiasm.

In a way that is what has happened to me in recent weeks. Here is another testimonial today from Russell who heard me speak at the IAPH conference:-

‘I would like to say that I really enjoyed Elaine’s speech about her life and the inspirational changes she has made. What struck me was how she was prepared to ‘lay herself bare’ on an emotional front and told her story ‘warts and all’! Here is what I saw as an ‘ordinary’ lady and she has taken a life trauma and turned it into a positive and used this to help others and to inspire! I am writing a book myself and also considered writing another book on my own life trauma so this has given me the extra inspiration to really go for it!’

I can't share that with Clive directly but I know he'd hug me proudly.

So what have I learned today?
  • That I can work and focus well
  • That a walk is a good tonic from feeling overwhelmed
  • That although my grief remains there is a strength and excitement in me emerging
  • That memories can make me smile 
  • That other people are so important to me
My questions for you:-
  • Who can you help support with a challenge? 
  • And will you be there to share their success and celebrate it?
  • Do you recognise and celebrate your own successes, no matter how small?
Tonight I have made a BIG step. I have turned my Greatvine advice telephone back on. I feel ready to help others in their hour of need again. Originally Clive had suggested that I am available only 'office hours'. Now perhaps I can help those in need of an empathetic ear at any time I am not otherwise occupied.

Now that IS progress - well done me!

Nite nite,

Elaine x

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Happy Father's Day

Today I would like to think about fathers and of course wish my dad a wonderful Father's Day. He and Mum are away so I can't be with them. I have left a card and present but my thoughts have gone beyond that.

On Facebook someone suggested changing your profile picture to one with or of your Dad.
Here is me and mine back on my first wedding day in 1988.

Sadly the marriage didn't last but although the men have come and gone in my life, my Dad has always been there for me and still is. I love how proud he looks and my gaze to him says it all - I love my Dad!

As a little girl I remember how very hard he worked for his family. He worked shifts in fire, safety, security jobs especially with ICI. When we lived in Fleetwood he also had a second job as a part-time fireman. I can smell his smoke-smelling clothes now. It was only recently he told of the many dangerous tasks he had done. As a child he had a tough time growing up as part of a large family in Greenock, leaving home to join the RAF at 15. Blimey! That's like my Dominic now. He met my Mum in Blackpool when he was based at Weeton camp. They married in 1960.

Both Mum and Dad have loved us unconditionally. Claire, Kevin and I have been enabled to make the choices we have in our lives thanks to the opportunities they made possible for us through hardwork and love.
All three of us have got Honours degrees, Claire has a Masters and Kevin came close to his PhD. In a generation they showed what was possible through the education system of this country but in doing so they made countless sacrifices themselves.

As children we were encouraged to participate in many activities after school such as playing musical instruments, Guides and Scouts. We have all grown up to be busy, efficient and capable people even if our journeys have been rocky at times!

All three of us have faced numerous challenges in our lives and Mum and Dad have never failed to support us, even if perhaps they didn't agree with our decisions. As grandparents they have notched up to another level, if that's possible! Their support for me currently since Clive died has been truly amazing - from Mum keep reminding me not to torture myself and Dad for hugs and not least decorating my bedroom!

I am not sure where my current journey is taking me but I always know that it will include my parents.

Thanks Dad for:-

  • tickling my ear with a Kirby grip when I couldn't sleep as a little girl
  • countless 'taxi' trips
  • rescuing me from 'boy' incidents!
  • showing me first aid tricks (even if I couldn't save Clive, I knew what to do)
  • being strong for me when I had postnatal illness
  • amazing holidays
  • teaching me to wallpaper
  • changing the bed numerous times in recent years when I have stayed
  • letting Mum come out to play with me!

...and much, much more.

I guess now I know what loss is truly like (how it hurts like no pain I have ever felt before) today I am also thinking of those who are not lucky enough to still have their father alive. I also am thinking of my late Grandpas too. Bless them.

Last night I went to bed and caught the last hour of Notting Hill. Clive and I had watched it together late last year. It is one of my favourite films. So much of it reminded me of the two of us. I genuinely enjoyed it, even laughing out loud. yet when the final song played and I turned out the light, my tears were like a waterfall. I miss that closeness with someone - the eyes across a room, the cuddles, the plans. I struggled to sleep. Today I awoke with an air of 'I am so lucky to have experienced a love like we had, but he has gone. My life has to go on.'

I have been in the office all day and have cleared a huge list!

One track that has been played on the radio regularly is this one. My thoughts, love and affection are with my Dad today but also to those who are missing theirs today.

We must always make the most of those we love because we never know just how long we have .. to dance with them, to be with them, to just let them know how much you love them. Otherwise you will be left with remorse - grief is bad enough without adding that to the mix.

If you haven't already ... let someone know that right now.

By the way Dad - you owe me a dance xxxx

Elaine x 

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Well done Dinah!

I had a very relaxed day today with excellent company, fresh air, good food and sharing a major achievement.

This morning Chris, little Emily and I set off along the A64 towards the seaside resort of Filey. I have visited places north and south of it but not the town itself. I did recognise part of the route as where a couple of years ago Clive had taken me for a surprise on Valentines Day to experience 'Go Ape' in the Dalby Forest, climbing in the trees!

A happy day!

We parked in the car park and area where the Great Yorkshire Bike Ride was due to finish later in the afternoon. Dinah Wylde, one of our trustees for the Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation, set up in memory of Emily's Mum who died last year, was doing a sponsored 72 mile ride for us.

Chris, Emily and I had a leisurely walk along the seafront, finding puddles to splash in, tasty things to eat and a windmill to blow in the wind.

As we walked to the end of the prom I was engulfed in a wave of tears! The memories of early Sunday mornings on the beach with Clive and Peeka hit me along with the thought of Joe not being alive to be with her gorgeous daughter and husband. Chris just hugged me as I sobbed,
'It's just not fair for either of us!'
I look at that photo of Emily and my passion to fight for better recognition and services for families affected by postnatal illness just grows even more.

We wandered past the signs for Tea Dances, The Elderly Persons centre, knitting shops and Mobility scooter centre and found a bistro for a snack! I actually liked Filey! It is an unspoiled British seaside town. In the Winter Gardens I saw this figure made of steel.

This is how I have felt so often these last 16 weeks - like my insides have been ripped out - all that remains is an outline. I know that gradually it is being filled in but just as it thickens, it thins again.

In the bistro I glanced at the evening menu. It was the kind of place that had candles in wine bottles with the wax dripped down them. A romantic venue. I felt sad again. I love to be treated, wined and dined. Being part of a 'couple' again seems so far away both in the past and in the future. How will I ever move on? How will I ever be able to be with another man without thoughts of Clive?  Yet I am only 47. It is still early days I know.

The afternoon drifted on with a play in a park and finally we met up with Dinah's husband and mother-in-law near the finish. At last Dinah appeared! What a woman! 72 miles and looking as fresh as a daisy!

Her first comment after 'I did it!' was 'the food was gorgeous! I'll have to do it again next year just for the food alone!' What a star.
Apart from a three week Outward Bound course when I was 17 and a parachute jump when I was 30 I have never really excelled physically. Perhaps I should do it next year too?

The day ended with more food in an excellent Italian restaurant in Filey. En route I managed to fall over my feet and have two grazed knees and backache - should have had a mobility scooter!!!! The meal was a relaxed end to a poignant yet beautiful day.

As Chris drove me home my heart began to sink. I didn't want to be left on my own. However, I am pleased with myself because I haven't spoilt a good day with self-pity and upset. Instead I have written a list of things I intend to do tomorrow, have enjoyed sorting the photos and this blog, and am focusing on the next few exciting weeks as opposed to dwelling on the past.

I also am so grateful to have a special friend who understands why the tears suddenly flow and stop just as quick. A special friend with whom we enjoy silence and just 'being in the moment'.

Today has been great in that I truly relaxed and unwound. Going at 'Emily' pace is a tonic and letting my mind just drift was really good. I let the world stop for a little while and got off. Tomorrow I start on the list!

There are more photos of today on my Facebook page here

I bet Dinah sleeps tonight!

Elaine x 

Positivity in the Pennines

After my wallow last night I awoke this morning with a decision to change my thinking on a few things that were bothering me - instead of stewing I took action! Within half an hour my mood had lifted just by sending a few positive messages out.

I then had an interesting conversation with a lady in Amsterdam and my talk is now booked for later this month. I can officially claim to be an international speaker again! Last year I was in Italy and I have also spoken in Sydney, Australia and in Brussels at the European Parliament. Since my book was published in 2005 I have also been to Dubai and New York for business. Women get postnatal illness right around the world and I also was keen to go 'global'!

From that call I had to hurriedly get ready to drive from my parents in Cheshire back towards Huddersfield for a meeting with Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation. Today we were meeting at Totties Garden centre, near Holmfirth. I was feeling reasonably happy until I turned off the main road onto one above Holmfirth where the vista was suddenly magnificent - the back bone of England, the Pennines spread below me like a patchwork quilt of moors, stone villages and so much sky. As if someone had flicked a switch a lump sprang to my throat and the tears fell. All I could think was 'our' song about wanting to 'stand with you on a mountain'....

We had walked in those hills so full of optimism and love. The hurt from last night remained. I had made a few calls as I was driving (hands free) and I smiled as I knew that was how Clive would use his time in the car. But now I just was missing him and our life all over again. Why does grief jump up and bite you when you don't expect it?

I took a call from a fellow speaker. I was delighted to hear that he had been able to give a couple of talks which had been Clives. As a speaker with integrity it is vital that you do not let anyone down - Clive would have been pleased to know that the audiences and clients had been given a replacement. Thank you so much Richard for your kindness to me also - Clive would have very much appreciated the gesture.

I arrived for the meeting somewhat flustered and with a tear stained face! I have to say that my fellow trustees at JBMF have become another family to me. I spent the last few years shouting in the wilderness it seemed around postnatal depression. Now I have an amazing team. The literature, website, z-cards and action plans for the charity are incredible when we considered that it was only August last year we first met. The website is already attracting a global audience! Two more workshops for children's centres have been booked and there are more in the pipeline. We are also planning a national event next year. My sadness soon turned to pride and excitement for the charity. The setting was beautiful too and lunch was very tasty.

I had a coffee with Dinah who is doing a sponsored bike ride for the charity tomorrow ending in Filey. PLEASE help her reach her target! Another friend of mine David Paley is also doing it. I feel I am beginning to put some of the weight I had lost, back on. I need to get physical again!

Next stop was at Chris's where we had a relax in the hot tub and played with Emily.

Tonight I have been to friends for a lovely meal and wonderful company. I am saying no more than that because it would appear that word has got around my friends that might 'tell all' in my blog!! As if ......

So as I go to sleep tonight my world is a happier place. I have made more plans today; shared and solved some problems I was facing; confirmed three more speaking events and spent time with people who enrich my life - I hope they feel the same about me!

Night night,

Elaine x

Friday, 17 June 2011

Do you have a vision?

Well the pattern is there - I leave you all with an 'up' and then I come down again! I have struggled the last 24 hours. Why? I miss my Clive so very, very much.

I have been sleeping better but last night I woke up at 3 a.m. and the emptiness at the side of me was huge. The emptiness inside me even bigger. I felt the empty space at the side of me. I ached to hear his voice. I ached to feel his touch. I ached to snuggle up to his chest. Silent tears rolled down my face.

Why does everything seem such hard work? I must have been awake a couple of hours but finally drifted off to sleep. Everything seems such a worry today. I got busy at my desk and did get through some tasks and building on new steps to build my speaking business. Whenever I have had great feedback for some silly reason I then get doubts that 'it will work'! I love sharing my messages. For so long I have received the reluctance by many to book me because of my subject matter! Postnatal depression is just not sexy. People do not see the relevance in it unless they have been affected - and that is why it needs talking about! My new keynote is much broader so I should have less opposition to deal with a 'delicate subject'.

I was needed to help with Sophie today and I was delighted to. En route I reached out to feel my passenger seat, remembering Clive sitting there, usually fiddling with stuff as he wasn't a good passenger. Just an empty space today.

Perhaps a Sophie squeeze would be good for me? She is adorable and almost walking unaided. Mum and Dad had bought her a little house for their back garden.

I took her back home and stayed for a while as she played and entertained her parents and I. At one stage her Dad was looking at a picture book with her and asking her the usual question of 'where's the dog', etc. and she would point at the relevant picture.  When asked 'where's the aeroplane?' she pointed upwards!  So cute!

Tonight I just feel so niggly. Perhaps it was torturing myself but I just needed to soak up my man.

Maybe one reason I am struggling is that I need a new vision. For the past three years it included Clive. We would have been sorting wedding plans together. Building our business together. Living together. Being together. Growing old together.

And now it's gone.Vanished. Disappeared. Irrevocably changed and gone.

I know I faced a similar crossroads when we first got together. My vision had always been as a Mum with a family - like in the Enid Blyton books. That vision evaporated.

So I am faced with 'what now?'. I watch that video of Clive and the ache grows. For yet another time today I have reached out to touch him. And he isn't there. And he never will be again. If life is like a jigsaw puzzle someone has taken my picture off the box. They have taken out the corners. They have taken away the framework.

I know that I am making progress and coming to terms with his death. My diary is getting fuller. My energy levels increasing. I have a great deal of support and much to look forward to.

I just wish Clive was still alive.

My vision? Speaking on many platforms and writing.
My motivation? To be a mother that my son is proud of - for my tenacity, my positive outlook, my realisation that it is my responsibility to make things happen.
What's the smallest thing I can keep doing on a consistent basis that will have the biggest impact?

Keep breathing is a start! Keep making positive choices. Keep connecting with people. Keep on caring - for myself and others.

Guess that's the framework, the border of my jigsaw puzzle of life. Time will show the bigger picture, ey?

What's your framework?

Elaine x

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Uplifting - in more ways than one!

Last night I got the bus into Leeds and actually took a piece of my own advice! Remember my messages about the importance of nice underwear? How it is the basis for feeling good? Well since Clive died I have lost weight and my shape seems to have changed. My underwear drawer needs a good sort but I did need a white set. As my underwear is now seen by no-one but me (that isn't a cry of sympathy - just fact!!) I could slip back into a 'who cares?' mode. BUT that's not what Clive taught me!

As I wandered into the Victorian arcades I recalled Clive literally staggering through icy streets in November after his first knee operation to get some shirts. He pushed himself so much and would not listen to my pleas that it was too much too soon. I also smiled at the jewellers where he had got his special watch a couple of years ago. Memories, memories.

I called into Bravissimo in Leeds and got fitted again. It would appear that I still have ample bosoms!! A short while later I left with a new, uplifting set which I shall wear for my video and photo shoot in London next month - dress is on order. I am still so sad that Clive won't be at home to excitedly say 'Let me see! Let me see!'

I then met up with Andy McMenemy as I wanted to introduce him to Don Hales and Anne-Marie from the Customer Service Training Network, whom I had spoken for in Cardiff a few weeks ago.

They were in Leeds for another event and we had arranged a quick drink. It was wonderful to hear more positive feedback from that day - I had received the highest score of all on the day. They consider anything above 85% to be good - I averaged 95%!  Today I received this from Lynne Copp which she has posted on LinkedIn.

"I heard Elaine speak at a recent event where I too was a speaker. She is incredible - genuine, honest, compelling and engaging. Elaine's story is straight from the heart. The audience was captivated as she moved through her journey of dealing with and finding support for women who suffer post natal depression. In recent times, Elaine has also experienced the loss of her fiance, and yet this amazingly resilient woman has taken the lessons that life has dealt, and turned them into positive, inspiring and uplifting opportunities for all of us.
I encourage employers to bring Elaine in to their businesses, and not only listen to her story, but engage with its underlying call to action. I always say that in the 10 years after a woman has a child, only 4% ever get promoted. This is a multi-faceted issue, but what if one of those reasons was post natal depression? What if those women had support? What if they could find the strength to be as good as they could be again? If you care about your female talent, and the diversity of your future leaders, then Elaine's message is worth hearing and acting on. Depression does not come with a rash, spots or a neon-light advertisement. Therefore employers should focus on truly noticing the wellbeing of their women who are parents, and when things turn wobbly for her, not just to get her back to work, but also to get them back feeling good, well and mentally strong. I encourage, no, I challenge you to invite Elaine into your company to speak. Her words will help you to turn the stigma of mental health issues into an opportunity for employee wellbeing.
I will certainly be recommending Elaine to my corporate clients!" 

I also received more from other people who heard me in Huddersfield. I am delighted!

Andy brought me home and I actually relaxed by watching the documentary on the Walton sextuplets. What a wonderful family! I was soon asleep (without the need for pillows down my side). However, in the early hours something made me jump and I instinctively reached out to cuddle Clive. He wasn't there. Just an empty space. 

I am doing my best to 'move on', 'move forward', 'create a new life', 'start a new journey', etc. but the feelings of missing Clive remain constant. Yet perhaps not quite as painful.

This morning was an early start, to look presentable and drive to Bradford. I smiled as I remembered the last time Clive and I were here I had received a 'fine' through the post for being in a bus lane - it came days after he had died! I found my way to the stunning Midland Hotel . At an event last year with Clive here I had realised that the manager Gary and I had been in sixth form together  at Helsby High school in Cheshire (where Dom now attends). Small world. Andy Preston  had invited me to a training session on selling. He is a great presenter and I wrote loads of ideas down which I intend to follow up! Especially in view of my testimonials. The other thing which shocked me was that two ladies I sat between - Tor and Wendy - are regular readers of my blog! Nice to know you are hooked!

Back home I began to work at my desk again until I got crushed by a wave of  'too much! I am overwhelmed'! I fought back the tears as I looked up at Clive's photo ...

This was taken in Naples on the last stop off of our 'honeymoon cruise without a wedding'. We had so many plans. So much to look forward to....

Beep! Text from his sister Lynn 'I have a pork chop, roasties and veg for your tea at 6 o'clock!'

So today I acknowledge that:

  • getting out and being with people and learning is good
  • that my new keynote has been exceptionally well-received
  • I am definitely able to concentrate for longer, yet still not quite at my maximum
  • that although my soul mate has physically gone, he is with me in everything
  • I continue to be surrounded by a raft of people so willing to help and support me - I just have to ask

And now, boy, do I need some sleep!

N nite,

Elaine  xx 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Charity newsletter

The days seem to be going so fast! On Sunday Dom, a great friend and I got my computer back up and running - much stronger than before. Thanks so much guys - my gratitude is HUGE!

Dom and I went onto Leeds Rhinos where they beat Hull KR 44 - 14. Brilliant game - very wet! Clive had been so looking forward to sharing games with Dom but I felt he was there in spirit with us. Our friend and brilliant player Jamie Jones Buchanan got bashed several times!  Then I had a dash back on the M62 to take Dom back home.

I awoke at Mums yesterday morning feeling very agitated. The trouble with being self-employed is that you have to be responsible for your own time. I was feeling guilty about 'wasting' it and getting in a panic about 'everything and nothing'! Right on cue Pete called me from Altum-V to arrange a meeting with me to help me make the most of my time and business planning! I then ran an errand and met up with a dear friend of mine and Clive's by chance. She eased my agitation in many ways - not least reminding me to be kind with myself!

Next I was back on the M62 but only as far as Huddersfield. The week before Clive died he had commented that I needed new windscreen wipers. It occurred to me yesterday that I had still not replaced them! For fear of not following my own advice, i.e. don't put things off, I called into a motor spares shop and asked for help. The charming assistant sorted me out and replaced them for me. As I was paying I told him the background. He said he was trying to give up smoking. Before he knew it the poor guy was getting a 1 to 1 advice session on giving up, e.g. what was he going to use the saved money for? Had he got the date of the holiday? The venue?  Clive really does live on through me!

I spent a totally relaxed evening with my good friend Chris and baby Emily. Even had a go on her trampoline! After the first glass of Pimms I decided to 'be good to me' and settled down to watch a couple of DVDs - 'Kill Bill'  and a rom-com 'Sweet Home Alabama'. The first one was not what I expected! So blood thirsty and violent but the second was good. No tears either! The ice cream, popcorn and company was good too.

Today I woke ready for work, drove home and have been in the office for hours now catching up on things. Just had an enquiry to speak in Amsterdam! Waiting for confirmation!

Please have a look at my charity newsletter for the Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation. This edition is in memory of Clive as he was the MC for our event in January. Please pass on.

Also please note that another of our trustees Dinah is doing a sponsored bike ride this weekend. Please sponsor her!

So what have you been putting off that needs fixing?

Elaine x

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Are you ignoring a warning light?

Yesterday morning I woke at my parents home and sat in the lounge with my cup of tea just thinking. Earlier in the week I had delivered a talk to Forward Ladies giving examples of 'the 3 Cs' that I use to get through - choices, connecting and caring.

Now I felt faced by three other Cs causing me upset - broken Computer, broken Car and loss of Clive!

Mum joined me and said any of those 3 are a challenge but ALL 3 are not good!

So what to do? The computer is getting sorted today; 'Clive' is ongoing!

The car? Clive used to use the story of a warning light on your dashboard to show people the importance of looking after yourself. He would say that when you see those lights you have 2 choices - take out the fuse, ignore it and carry on (in which case you will not avoid the inevitable breakdown) OR you take it and get it fixed. He compared this to our own health - when you get the equivalent of a flashing warning light do you ignore it because you haven't time to go and bother a doctor? You are not important? You know best? He used to say more people spent more on car servicing than they did their own health.

Sadly for Clive he had ignored the flashing warning signs on his own health for too long. In the New Year he finally did take note and had changed his diet, new exercise regime and had his knee fixed. Unfortunately he did this too late as his arteries were already furred too badly for anyone to have saved him.
Dubai - we danced in the desert!
Clive loved to teach and inspire by example so on his behalf I ask you - are YOU ignoring warning signs on your health, mentally and physically? What can you do for better health?

I knew yesterday morning I could not ignore my cars health. I also was driving Dom back across the M62 with me. There was no way I would endanger him. My choice was to fix it! First garage I was grumpily told they didn't 'do' warning lights! Second one that 'I'd chosen a bad day as their guy wasn't in on a Saturday'! Third place had me sorted and back on the road in a few hours! Thank you Grangeside Garage for excellent service.

In the meantime Dom and I had lunch with my parents. At last we headed back but called en route to B and Q then Rivendell garden centre for more bedding plants. I had been here a few weeks ago with Dom and been in tears at both. BIG improvement today. The underlying feeling of sadness remains but generally the pain isn't as intense.

We got back to Yorkshire and visited Lynn, Rod, Emily and little Ruby. It is a delight to see them so happy in their new home.

I quickly put the new plants in the front garden and went back into Tadcaster to collect a Chinese takeaway for us. York races had been on and many of the pubs had racegoers drinking outside. I wave of sadness came over me as I remembered how Clive and I had enjoyed those days. Increasingly I am accepting that they and he have gone.

I have to put my energies into my future. Having an evening with my gorgeous son on the sofa was fab! We munched most of the night whilst we watched Ice Age 2 then The Shawshank Redemption. I love Morgan Freeman! Both films reminded me of Clive but I also knew he would be pleased with how I had got through the day.

I had chosen to get my car fixed and stay safe. I had connected and communicated with people who are in my life and spent quality time with them. I had cared and been kind to myself by turning my memories into smiles not tears. And I am pretty sure Dom would say I was kind to him!

So today the computer should get fixed!

What can you fix today - starting with yourself?

Elaine x

Friday, 10 June 2011

The Colours of Life

Well my optimism for spending time with Molly Harvey wasn't wrong! After she had finished a successful meeting with a company in York I picked her up and we stopped off at Triton's for a piece of incredible home made pavlova! Last time I was in here I was rather tearful - today I enthusiastically shared my recent successful new keynote testimonials with Molly.

As I did so, another of Clive's musical selections from his celebration was playing in the background ..

Was he listening?! I then took Molly to our home where she said she sensed a true feeling of peace. She noticed that I had several ornaments of a single woman, especially the one on the mantelpiece which was a present from my sister when I was her maid of honour. I should find her a friend! She loved my new office and the bedroom. Her interpretation of the colours we had chosen was fascinating - representing relaxation and romance. Molly has a wide knowledge of feng shui - see more on colours here.

As I drove us back to her home on the Wirral we created my new brand - colours, theme, etc. By the time we got to her home I was buzzing! We shared a tasty meal (thanks Neil) and a cosy evening on the sofa. Ooh, lovely evening.

This morning began with an early morning jog along the prom followed by a Pilates session in the garden. Molly is a very spiritual person as well as an outstanding speaker. To share this was even more special. In the stillness of an early summer morning as the sun began to rise over the trees, I looked up to see - a vapour trail! Today Clive would have been celebrating 12 years in business as a speaker. Two years ago he had an evening to celebrate his 10th birthday - read his blog here

I took Molly's equally beautiful daughter to school and called to see my parents. Next stop was Crewe to be a guest on Redshift Radio for the Health and Wellness show, hosted by Mumtaz Hussain. The theme was postnatal depression and the other guest was Jane Leese, who had also suffered from the illness. You can listen again but it may take a day or too to update.

Me, Jane and Mumtaz

Trying out the DJ role!

The programme was on live from 2 to 4 p.m. We chatted about many aspects of postnatal illness including issues around the fathers. I of course mentioned the charity I am trustee of - where you can find plenty of useful information in addition to my website. It was enjoyable and great for once to have plenty of time to cover many subjects. I tried hard not to bring my Clive into it but when one of my favourite tracks played 'Just the way you are' by Bruno Mars, he crept in as an example of how small gestures can really show how much you love someone.
I have driven back though in a panic. The engine warning light kept flashing! This has never happened before. Looks like a garage trip will be needed in the morning.

Ironic that conversations today have been about recovery - I hope my car doesn't need too much!!

I will end today reflecting on Clive's last comment about his 10 years as a speaker:-

I will always appreciate that there is no such thing as self-made. I cannot make this journey on my own, although I will select my traveling companions with care.

I know just what he meant. Thank you to those of you who are truly helping.

Elaine x