In this Swindon in Business post, I’m delighted to introduce you to Linda Clarke. Linda has many talents and skills – not least amongst which is being a Master Hypnotist and working with businesses to provide a workplace mental health tool kit for employees.
And quite the best place to learn more about all that is here on her website.
Linda Clarke on LinkedIn:
Below is a link to a fab podcast of Sarah Archer interviewing Linda about her work. Linda did some work with Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter when in South Africa. A fact that introduces a link to Swindon. One of Mandela’s legal team – the late Lord Joel Joffe – had a big connection with Swindon. For here it was that he began his Hambro Life insurance company – later Allied Dunbar – of the Allied Dunbar Tri-Centre fame. Six degrees of separation and all that.
See Swindon in 50 Buildings for more on the Tri-Centre.
The podcast that Linda did with Sarah Archer: Https://www.saraharcher.co.uk/thespeakingclub/086
As interesting as what Linda Clarke does is her personal story. In the first instance, it’s an interesting one that forces some thought to the things that matter most in life. Like life itself for starters! But Linda’s story also underpins and explains what she does and why she does it.
Because life will throw curve balls. Shit will happen. As it happened to Linda and her husband. But it’s in our response to unfortunate events that we either survive and thrive – or fall. And that’s where Linda Clarke can help.
And now, with no further ado, here’s Linda’s story in her own words.
Returning to the UK
Two years ago, my husband and I returned to the UK after living in South Africa for thirty-four years. We emigrated there in 1983 with our two small children following my husband’s redundancy from his work. At that time there were few opportunities here due to high unemployment. We thought that South Africa offered greater opportunities in which to live and work and raise our young family. So off to live under sunny South African skies we went.
We worked hard and both had successful businesses there. We had a beautiful home with a swimming pool, a holiday home, help to tend the garden and clean our home. We could afford private education for our children and we enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle in a lovely sunny climate. What was not to love?
Indeed, for many years we lived the dream in the land of milk and honey. (As the images below show. The wrench must have been devastating.)
But over time things began to change. The decline in the economy resulted in an escalation of crime, violent crime in particular.
Visiting Wiltshire – and a crunch point
In 2014, when in Wiltshire for a holiday, it occurred to us that we weren’t unconsciously looking over our shoulder expecting to be a victim of crime. We hadn’t realized until then, that that was what we were doing in South Africa. The feeling of walking freely and free from fear was wonderful and liberating. Then and there we decided we would move back to the UK – although we didn’t know when.
So we enjoyed our holiday and returned to South Africa and got on with our lives, putting all ideas of emigration on the back-burner. We weren’t quite ready to give up our lifestyle. But eighteen months later something happened which made our leaving more urgent. The crunch came when five gunmen hijacked our daughter-in-law, with her two young children in the car. This in an up-market suburb in the middle of the day. We decided then that we could no longer put off leaving.
On the market
We put our home on the market and planned to transport our possessions plus our two beloved dogs here to the UK. We were so excited to be returning to the land of our birth and couldn’t wait to show “our girls” (that’s the dogs!) the beautiful countryside.
Only when we arrived did it dawn on us how much we had given up. We had no home, no friends, no job. And at 68 and 65 respectively we had to build our businesses again from scratch. Because of our ages getting any kind of job was impossible.
We were also worried about money – at that stage we hadn’t sold our home despite it being on the market for three months. Indeed, we wondered whether we would be able to sell it (the property market was in dire straits) and get any money out at all. Due to South Africa’s declining economy we lost eighty per cent of our wealth overnight. When we emigrated there in 1983 there were 1.6 Rands to the pound. By 2017 it was 20 Rands to the pound! R1.5m = £75,000.
Things were quite grim, but it got far worse! We had only been here two weeks when our beloved old dog Lucy died. Losing a beloved pet is heart-breaking for anyone. But for us it was especially so. We were neither of us in a good place mentally and emotionally due to our new circumstances.
Although devastated, we understood that this was simply another thing that we needed to withstand as part of the process of building our new lives here.
That sudden loss of Lucy could have been the proverbial straw breaking the camel’s back. But it wasn’t. Why not? Because I was resilient and knew what I had to do motivate myself, to stay focused and strong and to keep going. I shed a lot of tears. I could have slid into depression, but didn’t. Why? Because the experience I have and the work that I do gave me the mental stability I needed.
Overcoming mental health challenges
For many years, in my private practice as a therapist, I’ve helped people to overcome such mental health challenges as stress, anxiety and depression. So I knew that if I took steps to promote good mental health then I’d have the resilience to cope with life’s challenges as they arose.
I knew that, although life’s major events (divorce, moving to a new house, financial loss, chronic sickness and losing a job) could trigger mental breakdown, it’s not the events themselves but rather a person’s response to them that cause mental illness.
I had to learn to be at peace with uncertainty. Because catastrophising wouldn’t change anything. I spent many years in private practice equipping my clients with tools to reduce worrying and to promote flexible solution focused thinking.
Thus, in the middle of stress and uncertainty, I took deliberate practical steps to manage it. These steps involved, among other things, some physical activity. Poor Lily, our remaining dog, was depressed, confused and grieving. Were it not for Lily I might have resorted to staying in my pyjamas all day. But she gave me a reason to get dressed and get out. We both needed fresh air and exercise and a break from worry and sadness.
Over the past two years not a lot has changed in my circumstances. We still do not own our home and the prospects of doing so are nil. I’m working hard to build my business and it’s slow and tedious. It will be necessary for us both to work for the rest of our lives but we’re fortunate in that we both love what we do.
I am living my life for today, grateful for what I have and I’m enjoying sharing the beauty of nature with my beloved Lily.