Sunday, 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas memories

I am in the lucky position of having my Christmas lunch made for me (thanks Mum!) and waiting for a lift (thanks Martin and Claire) and am all ready. So whilst I have a few moments I just thought that I'd reflect ...

Today is the first day I have woken up in a house on my own on Christmas morning. I could hear the beautiful sound of the church bells. I wasn't sad as I woke, imagining all the scenes across the world of children excitedly playing with presents. I remembered last Christmas morning - the only one I was actually with Clive before I dashed across the M62 to be with my son and the rest of the family.

Today I shall not be seeing any of the M62 - the first in 3 years! As I munched my toast I listened to Ed Stewart's Junior Choice with memories flooding back. I thought of Clive and how we had listened to that programme last year with him singing along to many tunes! I recalled him singing 'Ernie' - ironically one of the tracks we played at his 'celebration' with the line 'He was only 52 - he didn't want to die'.

I remembered my grandparents and many of the Christmas joys and sagas we had with them!

I thought of Clive's family and how life has changed for them since we lost Clive. I thought of others who are facing their first Christmas without a loved one. I thought of my own family and how I shall spend the rest of today with my son, parents, siblings, brother-in-law and nieces and nephew.

My memories made me smile and it occurred to me that I could choose to spend the day dwelling on the past and being sad. Instead, although the sadness will be there, I choose to focus on the present and future and appreciate the people in my life now because today will be about making new memories.

Thank you to all of you have supported me through the loss of Clive. He will forever remain in my heart as a very special man and those of use who were fortunate to meet him were blessed - as many of you have told me. So please raise a glass to remember him, as we shall do today, but in the words of Christina Rossetti,

REMEMBER me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
So have an amazing day today - smile and create new memories with your loved ones. They are likely to become very precious.

Merry Christmas!

Elaine xx

Friday, 23 December 2011

One night one moment - when will yours be?

A couple of years ago Clive and I saw this trailer when we were at the cinema, for 'Nativity'.
Watch it here:-

I can't remember which film we saw but I do remember us commenting that we'd like to see this film. It was another thing we had planned but due to his sudden death, we never did. I could chose to avoid such activities we had intended to do but instead I feel it makes more sense to do them where I can. A bit like Rose at the end of 'Titanic' when the camera pans at the photos of all she did in her life after losing her love Jack!

So tonight I noticed that Nativity was being shown on BBC2 and decided to watch it. I settled down in my 'new' lounge in my little cottage.  It was very hard to leave the house that Clive and I had made our home but I admit that I feel more at peace in my own neutral space. I am surrounded by our things but the setting is different. I am stunned at how well I am sleeping too. In the early months after losing Clive regular blog readers may recall how sleep was a massive problem. To turn out my light and then realise 8 hours has slipped by is incredible here.  Being back in Cheshire near my family is lovely. I have been on my own today apart from my Dad 'popping in', which was great. He couldn't do that when I lived in Tadcaster.

Anyway - back to the film. I LOVED it! I admit that since I stopped teaching six years ago and Dom has passed the primary school 'magic' age for Christmas, I have not felt as festive. As a special school teacher we used to 'do' Christmas big time! Almost from October half-term the preparations began with cards, calendars and 'the play'. By the time the end of term arrived Christmas was truly in the heart and soul! Clive wasn't that keen on Christmas. He would bring a pre-decorated tree down from the loft on Christmas Eve and all signs would be gone by New Year's Eve! I also spent the last 3 Christmas Days split between Cheshire and Tadcaster on the M62 between my family and Clive.

Watching Nativity tonight reminded me of my teaching days. The excitement of the children. The stress of the staff! It was wonderful to see in the credits that the film is dedicated to 'inspirational teachers everywhere'.

There is also a loveable character in the film that reminded me of Clive - his confidence, fun and how he was admired by children. I recalled sessions he had given in schools to the groups often labelled as 'the trouble set'. The way he brought out the best in them was incredible.

As the film developed I felt a sense of sadness because Clive would have loved it. Why didn't we make the effort to go? How many things in life do we comment that we would like to do 'but never get round to'?

Is there something that you have said to a loved one that you want to do/go to/have?   How many excuses have stopped you? I have begun a journal in my new home. I have started another 'wish list' in the back of it. After watching the film tonight I have decided that within the next week I shall make a least one of them HAPPEN!

Perhaps there will be 'One night one moment' which was the final song in the film?!

I was in tears at several bits in the film but not through sadness - it was pure enjoyment!

I highly recommend that if you want a feel good Christmas film, get a copy and watch it!

And what are you going to do that you have kept putting off?

Christmas wishes to you all,

Elaine x

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Happy Christmas and good luck Wayne Gott

Every year for as long as I can remember I have written a Christmas card list and sent many cards to family, friends, neighbours, etc. 2011 has been an 'incredible' year. Losing Clive so suddenly has changed me and my life in so many ways. I have done things that I never expected and had to adjust to what happened. Perhaps this is a good time to do something else differently?

So I have decided to abandon my Christmas card list this year and put a donation instead to a worthy cause. During this year I have also been made aware of the pain and loss that people experience when losing a baby. Christmas is fundamentally about celebrating the birth of baby Jesus so what better time to think of those who have lost a pre-term baby or infant?

In September Clive's nephew Wayne and his partner Kirsty were expecting the arrival of their second son. Tragically baby Finlay was born asleep. At the hospital and in the weeks that followed they were helped and supported by the charity Sands for Stillborn and Neonatal deaths. Clive's niece Sue and husband Scott also lost baby Kyle earlier in the year.

Wayne has decided to do an impressive run and raise money for the charity on 26th September 2012, which would have been Finlay's 1st birthday. More details are here . Please share as appropriate.

So if I normally would have sent you a card please understand why I haven't this year. My very best wishes for you to have a Merry Christmas and healthy and happy 2012 remain! May I also add my thanks for your support during the last 10 months since Clive died. I would not be where I am now without you all.

Perhaps Clive will be looking after the 'little angels' just as he had begun to before he died? Here he is with great-nieces Ruby and Emily.

Elaine x

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Power of Three

Isn’t it strange how ‘life’ seems to bring us events in 3’s? How often are we in danger of a couple of things going ‘wrong’ and then we almost expect a third? We then anticipate the prediction which so often happens and we are then in danger of letting everything else drag us down!

I could have felt like that on Monday. Last week I was driving along in my trusted blue Fiat Punto - we have travelled 86,000 miles together in the last 4 years! Apart from a puncture on the M6 after a PSA meeting in Birmingham it has never let me down. Oh – and another time the exhaust fell off in a dodgy area of Manchester I was in, following a diversion! The rest of the time it has served me well. I cannot complain. My Punto has been there with me in times of great joy and in other emotions! It has heard me sing along at the top of my voice to happy songs and equally supported me through the tears.

Sometimes I feel I have been disloyal to my Punto as I have given it another personality! Many moons ago at a PSA meeting I heard a great speech by Martin Flett who described how the power of visualisation had helped win him medals for weight-lifting. He described in detail how when he was laying on the bench to push up heavy weights, just at the point he felt he could go no further, he pictured his late father helping him – wow! That picture gave him the extra power to go on to succeed. Around that time I had wanted an Audi A4 cabriolet. At that PSA meeting I mentioned this to another speaker who suggested that I should go for a test drive – she said I should feel, hear, etc. my dream car to strengthen the image and motivation to have one.

So I went for a test drive. I didn’t like it! However, the canny salesman suggested I ‘sat’ in the Audi TT roadster. It was bright red. Cream leather interior. Bose sound system. It was a sunny day. I drove it round the block. I have never had lust for metal and leather before – but I did then! The image has stayed with me ever since. So often I have sat at traffic lights and imagined that my Punto was actually that red Audi TT!

Perhaps this is why then this week it has taken revenge on me?! In the middle of a city centre last week – crash! The back box of the exhaust gave up. Maybe it was feeling inadequate?!

Then on Monday I was en route across the M62 for a meeting and training with Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation. The windscreen wipers ‘died’ on me! A pair of helpful traffic officers helped me at a service station but shook their heads in a knowing ‘oooh – Punto. You’ll need the whole lot replacing’. I came off the M62 and found a garage in Heywood where the chap also shook his head and repeated ‘oooh – Punto. You’ll need the whole lot replacing’.

With an air of resignation I asked him how much and how soon he could do it.

‘It won’t be cheap and I might be able to do it by late afternoon’.

My immediate instinct was mature and sensible – I wanted to cry! I had been looking forward to the JMBF meeting and Powerpoint training given by Mandy from Altum-V. Instead I was facing a big bill and a wasted day.

My recent coaching training came into play instead. I asked the man what needed to be done in order to get my car back on the road as quickly as possible. With a few more sharp intakes of breath he suggested he could get ‘the lads’ to fit it between jobs. Success! By late morning job was done and I was back on the road. Thank you

Whilst I waited I had a coffee and sausage sandwich (comfort food!) in Morrison’s cafĂ©. It was there I began to type this as I reflected on how easy it is to slip into negativity and allow a number of ‘bad’ things to let us spiral into a sea of dismay.

I could have wallowed in ‘it’s not fair’ and catalogued a whole list of happenings and situations that would ‘prove’ my life is a mess; I am overwhelmed; nothing goes my way, etc. etc. I could have snapped at the girl serving me at the counter. Instead I smiled at her and joined the banter she and a colleague were having. They were attempting to guess her middle name. Three letters. Began with ‘J’. I got it immediately – JOY!

So I sat munching my sausage sandwich and reflected on the many joys in my life.
  • I was grateful that my windscreen wipers had given up on me in daylight, at a time of day that they could be fixed – so often I have travelled late at night on wet and windy motorways – it could have been so much worse. I was warm and safe. For some people a new exhaust and a ‘big job’ on their car would ruin their Christmas – luckily for me I shall get by.
  • I am LOVING my new cottage. It has been very emotional leaving behind the home Clive and I had built together and remains painful on my return trips, as there are still things to be done there. Yet being back within the immediate reach of my family is wonderful. Magic moments so far have been Dom calling straight from school and me being able to give him an afternoon snack. Small thing but huge for me as this is a Mum’s pleasure that I have not been in a position to do for over three years.
  • My toddler niece Sophie now shouts ‘Laine’s house’ when we park outside. Watching Peppa Pig with her as she sits at the little tray table that Dom used to use brings such joy.
  • Being able to merely ‘drop in’ and have a drink with my parents is fantastic. I can tell that their worries have lessened about me knowing I am back in the area.
  • The warm ‘welcome back’ from my Cheshire friends has touched me as much as the messages of support from those I had made in Yorkshire.
  • I now look forward to spending Christmas and New Year in my new home. Of course it hurts that Clive is no longer around but I know he would be pleased with my decision as he gave his blessing for the idea weeks before he died. I have bought a little bin for my bathroom – it’s not pink as it would clash with the tiles – which had been my initial independent intention without a man to ‘tell me’ what I should choose! It is exciting to have my one home for the first time ever.

So after a Monday morning which put challenges in my way I continued on my journey. I put on my favourite Rascal Flatts CD and this tracked played…

Yes my road has been broken, as it does for many of us. Yet it has lead me to where I currently am – finding joy in life again.

Some people chose to spend their days hanging onto the past and living bitter lives, blaming others for where they are. I received a newsletter from Dr. Alan Zimmerman, who I heard speak when I attended a National Speakers Association convention in New York. His theme this week was about 3 ways to make a positive relationship.

1. Bring a bright spirit to every encounter.

That doesn't mean you have to be friends with everybody at work. You don't even have to like some of your coworkers or relatives. But you ... and only you ... can decide what kind of demeanor you bring to your meetings or get-togethers.

When I was speaking to the Alaska Association of Municipal Clerks, one member of the audience, Julie Cozzi, the Borough Clerk for Haines, Alaska, said it beautifully. She said, "Everyone brings joy to a room ... some when they enter, some when they leave."

Julie learned how to bring a bright spirit to every encounter. And in a similar manner, you can do the same thing. In fact, in these high-stress times, we desperately need people who bring a bright spirit to every encounter.

But ... you must choose to do it NOW ... no matter what is happening in your life or work. Unfortunately, as one person pointed out, most people choose to do it later ... when everything is going well ... when they're feeling better.

No! You've got to bring a bright spirit NOW ... not as one person said, "We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are. After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire."

"The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right NOW. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to he happy anyway."

"So stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die to decide that there is no better time than right NOW to be happy. Happiness is a journey, not a destination."

How do you do all that when times are tough? The author concluded by saying, "Work like you don't need the money, love like you you've never been hurt, and dance like no one's watching."

And then, to be a positive force in your personal and professional relationships,

2. Be more of a giver than a taker.

Many countries are on the verge of economic collapse ... many organizations are barely hanging on ... many teams are not working well ... and many relationships are falling apart ... because too many of the people in those countries, organizations, teams, and relationships are takers instead of givers. They're focused on taking on what they can get for themselves, no matter who they take it from. But that always has been and always will be a recipe for disaster.

That's why it was somewhat controversial when William Barclay preached, "Give without remembering and receive without forgetting."

It's also a practice that Joan Miller, a Navy investigator and one of my audience members, follows with such warmth and compassion. She's a giver instead of a taker, despite her heavy load of challenges.

As she told me, she lost her dear husband unexpectedly when he was taken by a stroke on her birthday. Then her Mother died a short time later of kidney failure. In between all of that, she had 4 surgeries herself. Fortunately, Joan had 10 givers in her life ... some coworkers and some relatives who kept calling her, who checked on her, who cared for her at home, bathing her, and applying antibiotic ointments.

When Joan's next birthday came, she decided to be a giver as well. She wrote, "I woke up on my birthday with a strong need to express my thanks to the many women who showered me with their love and compassion over the last year. I sent living plants to these 10 women with the following message: I'm counting my blessings on this birthday, and you're a Top 10! Thanks for being there."

Joan continued, "It seemed like the florist bill cost a fortune. But guess what? It paid back 10-fold. All the loving messages, e-mails, phone calls, and hugs from those women were priceless. One of the most rewarding feedback messages was from my niece Barbara, a single parent of a 10-year old boy. Naturally she thought it was amazing to think I was giving gifts to others on my birthday, and her niece added, 'I haven't had flowers or a plant delivered to me in years. I absolutely love it. And I'll take such good care of it and think of you at the same time.'"

Joan finished her note to me by asking a question. "Now I ask you, how could I have possibly received a better gift on my birthday than all those loving messages and bits of feedback? I've learned that the kindnesses we give to others are the very things that bring lasting memories to ourselves and others."

I believe that when you and I and everybody else learn that same lesson, our workplaces and our relationships will be so much better. Be more of a giver than a taker.

And finally, in your quest to become a positive force in your personal and professional relationships,

3. Plant good seeds.

You're going to have some problems and frustrations in every relationship you have now or ever will have. That's a given. And those challenges may tempt you to give up on a person or a relationship, and they may tempt you to retaliate or get even.

At times like those, you need to remember what one Anonymous author wrote: "As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn't supposed to
ever let you down probably will. You will have your heart broken probably more than once and it's harder every time. You'll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken. You'll fight with your best friend. You'll blame a new love for things an old one did. You'll cry because time is passing too fast, and you'll eventually lose someone you love. So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you've never been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you'll never get back."

The point is simple but important: you've got to do the right thing ... the good thing ... in your relationships ... whether or not you feel like it. After all, you are responsible for what you do in your relationships. How the other person responds to what you do is another issue and is not your reasonability.

It's like planting seeds. If you're a farmer, you are responsible for planting good seed, but the growth of that seed is somewhat beyond your control. Nonetheless, if you're a smart farmer you keep on planting good seed ... because chances are ... you'll eventually reap a good harvest. It's the law of sowing and reaping that works just as well in a farmer's field as it does in your relationships.

During this holiday season, or any season for that matter, take heed of this ageless advice:
If you plant honesty, you will reap trust.
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends.
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.
If you plant perseverance, you will reap victory.
If you plant consideration, you will reap harmony.
If you plant hard work, you will reap success.
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.
If you plant openness, you will reap intimacy.
If you plant patience, you will reap improvements.
If you plant faith, you will reap miracles.

If you plant dishonesty, you will reap distrust.
If you plant selfishness, you will reap loneliness.
If you plant pride, you will reap destruction.
If you plant envy, you will reap trouble.
If you plant laziness, you will reap stagnation.
If you plant bitterness, you will reap isolation.
If you plant greed, you will reap loss.
If you plant gossip, you will reap enemies.
If you plant worries, you will reap wrinkles.
If you plant sin, you will reap guilt.

So think twice about the kinds of seeds you're planting with your customers, your coworkers, your friends, and family members. It will determine the results you reap tomorrow. The seeds you're planting will make your life and your business better or worse.

To become a positive force, just remember relationship building is a lot like gardening. As Lynwood L. Giacomini says, "Like a gardener, I believe that what goes down must come up." And I say, what goes out must come back.


Write down 10 good seeds you will plant this week in your customers, your coworkers, your friends, and family members. And each time you plant one of those seeds, check it off the list.

Make every day your payoff day!

(2011 Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman, a full-time professional speaker who specializes in attitude, motivation, and leadership programs that pay off. For more information on his programs ... or to receive your own free subscription to the 'Tuesday Tip' ... go to or call 800-621-7881.)

So Dr Zimmerman also uses the Power of Three!

I changed my negative thinking about ‘things come in threes’ to counting my joys in life, making myself and others feel better in the process.

What three things can you do to make the world a better place for yourself and others today?

Elaine x

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

'Today I will make a difference' - will you?

Last week when I posted about the fact I was moving out of the home I shared with Clive back to be near my family, I concluded by posing the question about making each day count. Clive often spoke about how we 'only have today'. Losing him so suddenly really woke me up to that.

One my business colleagues and friends, Mike Coote, of Stratagem Plus Group, read my blog and showed me that he had featured this quote on his Linkedin account last week.

Today I Will Make a Difference By Max Lucado

"Today I will make a difference. I will begin by controlling my thoughts. A person is the product of his thoughts. I want to be happy and hopeful. Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful. I refuse to be victimised by my circumstances. I will not let petty inconveniences such as stop lights, long lines, and traffic jams be my masters. I will avoid negativism and gossip. Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark. Today I will make a difference.

I will be grateful for the twenty-four hours that are before me. Time is a precious commodity. I refuse to allow what little time I have to be contaminated by self-pity, anxiety, or boredom. I will face this day with the joy of a child and the courage of a giant. I will drink each minute as though it is my last. When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever. While it is here, I will use it for loving and giving. Today I will make a difference.

I will not let past failures haunt me. Even though my life is scarred with mistakes, I refuse to rummage through my trash heap of failures. I will admit them. I will correct them. I will press on victoriously. No failure is fatal. It's OK to stumble...I will get up. It's OK to fail...I will rise again. Today I will make a difference. Sometimes life just feels like an insurmountable obstacle. Too many things don't go our way... That's the time to reflect and give thanks for everything we have in our lives..."

Powerful words Mike - thank you for sharing them.

As I write this I ask those of you who believe in the power of prayer to have Don Hales in yours. I have just read that he has had a massive heart attack and is in a critical condition. Don has to be one of the kindest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I first met him when I had joined the PSA and I spoke at the East chapter many years ago. Since then we have stayed in touch. He also knew Clive well and we were all due to meet up earlier this year. Don came along to the Golf Day for Clive's foundation in the summer.

He had posted proudly on Facebook about his new grand-daughter at the weekend. I hope and pray that Don makes a speedy recovery.

I am not living my life now with a pessimistic 'I could be dead tomorrow' approach yet rather one of  'I want to make each day count, being gracious for all the many blessings I have, feeling I have been the best I could be and spending it with those who are precious to me'.

How do you live your life?

Elaine x

Can you help please?

As many of you are aware I am trustee of the Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation. Yesterday we were delighted to be featured in The Guardian.

Here is the text:-

The Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation was established to to highlight the misunderstood ravages of post-natal depression.

Chris Bingley's wife killed herself when their first child was 10 weeks old. The vivacious nurse had longed for a baby and, at 39, had begun to fear it would never happen. But days after the birth, post-natal depression (PND) set in. Within weeks it had consumed her and she took her own life in April 2010.

Chris has since struggled to bring up his small daughter alone while maintaining his job and establishing the Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation to highlight the misunderstood ravages of PND.

"When Joe died I was beside myself with grief, but there was a burning anger too," he says. "How could such a sensitive, caring nursing professional be allowed to descend into such a desperate state?"

The greatest cause of maternal deaths in the UK is mental illness, yet NHS provisions for women suffering from PND are largely inadequate. In response to Joe's death, the Patients Association surveyed the perinatal mental health care provided by 150 primary care trusts and found that 55% fail to offer appropriate information and support to mothers who may be suffering from PND. More than three-quarters had no idea of the incidence of PND in their region.

The memorial foundation, launched in April 2011 on what would have been Joe's 40th birthday, aims to publicise the condition, support sufferers and campaign for improvements to healthcare provision. It is also working with 30 other charities to set up an umbrella organisation to research the causes and treatment of an illness which devastates lives and costs the UK economy an estimated £60m a year.

"Joe had a family history of PND, and the coroner's report highlighted the failure of the NHS to help her," Chris says. "If the guidelines had been followed she would have been hospitalised when her symptoms became severe and she would still be alive today."

So far, the £14,000 raised by the foundation has been spent on distributing leaflets on PND and its symptoms, and on training mentors to highlight awareness through Sure Start Centres and health visitors. The foundation website offers comprehensive advice on how to recognize PND and where to turn, and a pilot scheme of local support groups staffed by volunteers in West Yorkshire launches in January. Eventually, it aims to provide every new mother with a booklet of information, and with more volunteers and resources Chris hopes to be able to offer one-to-one mentoring. "So far there is no kind of network like this in the region," Chris says.

The foundation's outreach has already helped other women battling the bewildering, often violent, symptoms of the illness. "I had been to my doctor, and both my husband and I had begged for help from the health visitors and GPs but we were ignored," says Clara Wilson, who has suffered from mental health issues since giving birth to her daughter in January. "I came across a leaflet from the foundation which made me realise my depression is real. I wasn't a bad mum, I was ill. There is very, very little information available about PND so that little leaflet was a lifesaver for me."

The foundation needs corporate sponsors and volunteers to help mentor, fund raise and share their experiences online. It has also set up a petition to end the postcode lottery in perinatal healthcare and an online raffle to raise funds runs until 16 December.

I would be delighted if you could help - even if sharing the link for the petition and raffle to your contacts.

Thank you,

Elaine x

Friday, 2 December 2011

Moving out and moving on

Regular readers of my blog will have noticed that I am not writing as much as I did earlier in the year after we lost Clive. I guess I used the September holiday with my parents as a significant turning point as after those dates (which would have been when Clive and I were on a cruise), everything in my diary was down to ‘me’.

I also knew that I had to take responsibility for my own life. I have to accept that Clive Gott has died. No longer will I hear his voice; feel his hugs; see that special look in his eye for me. So I have put my energies into positive aspects. I cannot bring back the past. I could chose to spend the rest of my days dwelling on ‘what might have been’ but what good would that do anyone, least of all me? I also know Clive would be furious with me! He would say I was ‘bang out of order’! ‘Did I teach you nothing?’ he’d say.

So the past few months I have begun to focus more on my own work and life – without him. I feel that I have now delivered my adapted messages in my talks and received great feedback. My rebrand is well underway with more developments coming soon.

As all this has taken shape I have become increasingly unhappy in what was our home. Several weeks before Clive died we were having a walk together. Out of the blue he declared ‘If ever I wasn’t here, you’d have my full blessing to pack up and move back to your family’.

On increasing occasions now I have left my son, parents, sister, niece and brother-in-law in Cheshire to drive across the M62 back to an empty house. No longer does Clive sit waiting at the bottom of the stairs for me. No longer does he wait like an excited child, so happy to see me. The house is dark, quiet and empty. Returning after a speaking engagement is flat and lonely. And pointless.

Of course I have Clive’s family and some wonderful friends in Yorkshire who I have made over he last three years but I need to be back with my own family – where I belong.

At half term I was especially upset only to see Dom for around 24 hours. It simply won’t do. I have missed out on so much of his life in the past 3 years. I don’t want to miss any more.
So I looked on Rightmove and fell instantly in love with a 2 bedroomed cottage. I contacted Cheshire Relocation and they have done a sterling job for me. I move in very soon!

I am sooooo excited! If you draw a triangle between Dom’s house, my parents and my sister I am right in the middle, around 7 minutes from each. Dom can cycle to me. I have never had my own place before. I have either lived with my parents or a man! If I want a pink bin in the bathroom I can!

Packing up is a dichotomy of emotion! I can open a drawer and cry over memories of a dinner party that we bought the table mats for – then I am excited at the prospect of entertaining in my new home. I smile at the memory of choosing the cushions for our new bedroom that he never lived to see done, with a sense of loss, then get giddy at the thought of unpacking them at my cottage! Wow! What a tough ride it is.

I am aware that I may be judged for leaving; others have said they are surprised it has taken me so long. I have learnt that no matter how you react to bereavement, someone won't like it! Again one of Clive's famous sayings from the platform was 'whatever someone else thinks of you is none of your business'!

I arrived back after my hectic week of speaking to the cold, empty house. I knew I had to begin to pack more. I sat at the bottom of the stairs where Clive would wait for me. Dom was having a party that night and I wanted to be ‘on hand’ in case he needed me I wasn’t. I felt a bad mother. I felt overwhelmed with the amount of packing that was facing me. I felt angry at Clive for leaving me, something he vowed he never would. I felt I couldn’t handle it all. I began to sob, sitting on the stair where he would wait for me.

Then I realised what I must do – change my thinking. This would be the last weekend I would not be near to Dom. His Dad is an incredible father to him but I need and want to be there. This move enables that. Too much packing to do? Put on music and do it little by little. I began with the bathroom and from there the only way was up! I applied Clive's tips of 'don't run 26 miles in a marathon but run a mile 26 times'.

I shall miss the friends and neighbours I have made in Yorkshire and especially Clive's sister Lynn and brother Malcolm and their sons and daughters. It has been easier leaving with their help, support and memories. Yet I remain a phone call away and certainly intend to maintain those relationships. Thank you to you all.

In my pretty cottage with a blue door I shall continue to heal and grow. I do not regret my time with Clive, as in his words we 'had a ball'. I learnt a great deal from him, not least about relationships and 'letting go'. He would often comment that some people live their lives in bitterness, and self-inflicted pity, blaming others for what happens to them. As he often said 'it's not what happens to you in life, it's how you deal with it.'

As I pack up in the kitchen the notice board catches my eye - it has the huge list that we had compiled of what were going to achieve in 2011. Again my emotions are mixed - some will never be achieved now, some I am proud that I have done without him. Yet it is the last line which gives me the strength to proceed with this move ..

'Live our purpose on the wall and remember today is the only time we have.'

Clive had begun to be increasingly aware of 'time'. It is so very, very precious. The best way I can honour Clive's memory is to live by what we believed in. These are the words on the frame he bought me last Christmas, which says it all :-

'Remember when you go into the world to keep your eyes and ears wide open. And be kind. Love one another. Take care of each other. Tell the truth. Always do your best. Listen to the big people and the little people. Explore new paths and have fun. Know that you are loved like crazy. Give thanks for all your blessings. Above all else, love and you will do wonderful things in this world.'   Rebecca Puig

I intend to make my remaining days count in these ways - do you?

Elaine x