Tag Archive for Herbalife

When my disability felt disabling

This weekend I had a real wobble; anxiety, panic, fear and upset all rolled into one.  This weekend didn’t start off very well.

There are times when people say how inspirational or how positive I am, well this weekend I wasn’t any of these things.  In fact I felt like I was being penalised because of my sight and hearing issues. And I just wanted to leave where I was, give up on my plans for the weekend and walk away from it all.

Thankfully I was surrounded by some great friends; who didn’t allow the negativity to get to me, who stepped up and even stepped in to support me and change things around….. And for this I have gratitude.  Because what started out pretty shitty ended up being pretty AMAZING.

This weekend I attended a MAHOOSIVE Herbalife training event called ‘Summer Spectacular’  This training consisted of two days of training, stories and information from not only some of the best in the UK part of Herbalife, but also some of the best from America, France and South Africa.  Men and woman within the business that were not within my immediate reach.

So my ticket for the event was bought, childcare sorted, transport and sleeping arrangements sorted.  I had the support of my amazing team so I knew that both me and Fizz would be ok.

The training was at a venue I hadn’t been to before, but that was ok because an hour or so on google and I had found enough images of the venue to feel that I had a good enough virtual awareness of it to get through.  There was even a Starbucks on site, what more could I ask for?

The venue; The International Conference Centre (ICC) in Birmingham was also only a short ten minute walk from the apartment we were staying in AND there were plenty of grass areas between the two for me to know that Fizz’s needs were catered for also.

Saturday morning came and while my team mates were taking part in a very large ‘Fitclub’  I was able to grab a coffee, get my bearings and feel prepared for the next few days.

We came to entering the training room and a member of staff quickly found me (having the only dog in the building will get you noticed!!)

My team mates explained (because it was too loud for me to hold a conversation) that I would need to be seated near the front with space for both me and Fizz, but not in a direct walk-way as this could put Fizz and others in danger (black dog in a dark venue is a real trip hazard)

So, the staff guided me down the steps of the auditorium and sat me at the front, but with space the side where Fizz would be able to lay out.  Brilliant, a seat was allocated for my team mate too and I thought all was ok.  That was until the music started.  It was not that it was LOUD.  It was the fact that it was coming from a large speaker right beside where Fizz was to be able to rest…. let’s just say, she would have probably been more likely to burst an ear drum than relax.

No trouble I thought my friend and companion  Jenny got the attention of the staff, asked for us to be moved and off we went.

The next seating we were offered would see Fizz sat directly beside the auditorium steps (a major trip hazard)  but as the seating within the venue was fixed in place the staff were a little perplexed.

Another member of staff was called upon and it was decided that a couple of chairs could be brought in from outside and placed by the door……

“Um sorry I am not sitting right beside the door, where people will be coming and going throughout the day, that’s hardly relaxing for Fizz or suitable for me.”

So the chairs were moved and we were seated beside the camera mans tripod.  But that was ok; at this time the meeting was starting and I just wanted to sit down.

So me and Jenny moved the chairs across slightly giving Fizz the space to lay down.  But by this point not only was I feeling anxious and upset, I was also feeling that because our seating was so different to everyone else that I was on show, a bit of a ‘look at our token blind guest’  and this was what ALMOST saw me walk out.

I messaged my teammate and cousin Charlie with a very frank, honest, choice set of words and we simply replied

”Stay put I will sort this”

Charlie is a rock.  Jenny got me a drink and Fizz nudged at me as if to say ‘it’s ok mum’

Charlie sent me a message a few moments later that simply said “it’s sorted” so I sat, listened to the speakers and awaited the break.

At the break we stepped outside and were greeted by the events coordinator who moved me away from the crowds (these events have upwards of 2000 people attend) and explained that there was a larger room just opposite that had the lights up, had tables, plenty of space and a large screen that was streaming the main event directly into the room.

Well considering at similar events I can only just watch the stage via the screens and never actually see the people as they stand on the stage, this sounded like a good solution.

So into the room we went, table found, cool air con and really good lighting and I felt both me and Fizz relax.  Jenny came with me and she instantly agreed that this was a great alternative and would make it easier for her too to write notes and move about. (The room was a large conference hall, with about two dozen large circular tables.

Fizz was aware that I was more relaxed and as such, she was more relaxed.  And thankfully the rest of the day was much calmer.

The events staff came back to find us to discuss the evening dinner and party.  It would be held in the very room we were sitting in, but dressed to celebrate.  There were set to be food stations, where festival themed food would be available.  The event team asked me to just come also for and try to see if I could cope.

Again they made arrangements for me, Fizz and the a guest of my choice to enter the room before it was opened up to everyone.  To enable me to come in while the lights were up to navigate the room.

Fastforward to the evening ……

I entered the room early with Fizz and Jenny, we found a table to sit at and I was able to familiarise myself with the room layout.  The food stations would be far to tempting and distracting for Fizz, so Jenny agreed to support me by collecting food for me.

Entering the room early may not sound like much; but actually it made all the differenxe to enabling me to enjoy the evening.

I felt relaxed; I felt much more relaxed than I have at any other party event I have attended with Herbalife.

I even got up and danced for a bit and found myself mingling through (with a Jenny’s help) to catch up with other friends and colleagues.

Sundays Training was so much simpler.

We went straight into the ‘break out room’ and we actually found a good few more people sat here.  News of the air conditioning had spread through to the auditorium and even some of our own team joined us.

I don’t feel that I missed out by sitting in the other room.  I did however gain so much.  I would highly recommend that such ‘accessible’ seating was available ….. And as such and email has gone off to the company to ensure more support is available.

After all, o can’t be the only person within Herbalife that has a disability or anxieties about large numbers of people?

 

A Sprinkle of Magical Pixie Dust

As a parent myself, I thought hard about the names I gave my children, their father had his opinions.  We went through baby books, baby names and even google to help us choose.

My parents, named me Theresa-Claire, as the second born I was afforded a middle name where my sister Samantha wasn’t.  I was also afforded the same initials as my father; Trevor Clive.  Was it hoped that I would be TC Jr?

I am not in a position to ask these questions.  I am however able to tell you how, for as long as I can remember I was called many alternatives to my actual name.

These included ‘Top Cat’ – ‘TC’ – ‘Tessa’ – ‘Tuppence’ and for the majority of my adult life ‘Tee’

When I married I took my husbands surname, when we separated and then divorced to revert to my maiden name would have cost me the fee of a deed poll.  So, with my new partner I chose to double barrel his surname on the end of mine.

Becoming Osborne-Bell.

I had never liked my married name, I never made any secret of this.  Despite my daughter having my ex-husbands name, I couldn’t and didn’t want to keep it and as we were married when she was born, Osborne never formed part of her name as it has my sons.

Families have their differences, arguments and even irreversible consequences.  But I am not prepared to denounce any of my ‘chosen’ name.

But I have found a new ‘nickname’ off the back of it.

Dropping Osborne-Bell to O-Bell.  And altering Tee to Tink.  And now I am my very own magical, mythical pixie Tink-O-Bell.

Known often just as Tink !

In this past year I have been improving myself, admittedly half-heartedly with the support of my coach and cousin Charlie.  I have been working on creating the best version of me.  Loosing weight, improving my nutrition and sports performance through the use of Herbalife Shakes, supplements and products.

And this is where my name is key; for my favourite example of Tinkerbell isn’t in PeterPan, it is in Moulin Rouge (played by the singer Kylie) where she is the little green absinthe fairy.  Full of fun.

I am now looking to take my involvement with Herbalife further, I am now looking to use my own product result and increased energy with Herbalife to the next step.

….. That’s a whole other chapter that is only just beginning !!

But either way, it is with this involvement of the colour green that I am going to truly become my own version of Tink-O-Bell !!

How did people cope before Google?**

Or more to the point; how did people cope before assisted technology?

This weekend just gone, I attended a conference with colleagues, part of the presentation was a show, bright lights, loud music, all contained in a large conference centre, with about 1700 other people.

Enough to put anyone with anxiety off!  So add to that my sight issues and ever changing hearing and I was in a total panic mode.  I had my faithful Fizz with me and some fabulous friends, so knew I would be well liked after.  But having been to a similar (yet different) event with the company in the summer, knowing more wasn’t helping to make me feel better.

This was a BIG event, there were lots of whispers about information that was going to be shared, I knew o had to be alert and listen, while also taking notes.

And this is where the assistive tech came into play……

Out of my bag came my iPad and headphones, just one placed inside my left ear and my voice over switched on and I was all set.

Since I was 6, I have been able to touch type, so could happily type as the various speaker talked, using the camera on my phone to photograph the PowerPoint slides I thought would be relevant …. Even though I couldn’t actually see them at the time!

I have said it before that “I am a Mac” but over the weekend it became so clear just how much of one I am.

I have many a ‘shortcut’ set up on both my phone (iPhone SE) and my IPad, so with certain finger taps or multiply finger movements I can easily move around.

The one that got a lot of whispers was the ‘screen curtain’.  For those who don’t need it, I guess it is a feature you don’t know about.

The screen curtain does exactly as it suggests, it puts a black curtain over the screen, or an easier way to explain it; it turns the screen off, without turning off or stopping you using the iPad.

This feature works hand in hand with Voice over as I have no need to see what I am doing as I am able to hear it all.  Also in a conference setting, where the lights are dimmed and others are sat behind writing notes, it saves the light from my screen being of a distraction or glare to them while allowing me to conserve battery.

It did cause no less than three people gently tapping me on the arm and explaining that my laptop seemed to be switched off.  So, with a quick three finger triple-tap the screen curtain was turned off and they could see my document, which often then led to “wow” or “aren’t you clever?”  But like I said above, it’s all just part of the tech and my ability to get the most out of such a conference as others.

Over the weekend I wrote pages and pages of notes, which I have since edited and corrected the odd predictive text issue and been able to recap on my learning.

The conference was much more tricky than I had anticipated, I didn’t realise just how much my hearing had changed from the previous 6 months.  I didn’t anticipate the eye atrain, ear ache and headache that I would suffer after four hours.  So much so, that in the evening instead of putting on my new posh frock, I got into my pj’s and curled up instead.  Knowing that Sunday’s training was almost twice as long!

The team around me were concerned about my struggles from the previous day, so arranged for me, Fizz and a friend to sit in a better position, much closer to the screens, yet further away from the speaker, so the presentation was clearer, and not as loud.

I felt very emotional and suppressed my tears at this act of kindness, they did not need to do this, yet they did and it became clear when I returned to the conference just the extent hey had gone to.  A member of staff met us at the door and walked us in moving us through the crowds and seating us, checking if Fizz needed any water or if I needed a drink or anything.  This biggest part with them making these adjustments for me was that they allowed me to have a friend with me, my colleague who I was sharing a room with, who was more than happy to take Fizz out for a walk and a wee or get me anything I needed or showing me where the toilets were.  This simple act allowed me to relax, to know that I was with someone I knew and trusted and that didn’t have to worry about a thing.

So at our next conference in February I shall be keeping a tally on how many comments and ‘gentle nudges’ I shall get about typing or pretending to type on a switched off iPad ….. Watch this space !!

The one thing that this weekend has shown me is how much I am loosing my control on my disability, how much it has changed and thankfully how much I am now surrounded by people that are happy to support me.

 

**DISCLAIMER:  Other search engines are available

Jumping without a parachute …

Who needs a comfort zone anyway?  Last weekend I not only stepped out of mine, I jumped out of it without my parachute !!

Not even those closest to me may have even realised the inner turmoil I was battling with …… Fizz knew, she kept me calm, she kept me from falling apart and she kept me safe every time I needed her to put on her harness and be my eyes.

Any event/conference/summer spectacular is daunting for many!

A room with 2,000 other people is also terrifying in itself!

Then add to the mix you can only see shapes and colours; the lighting is set up as corporate and moves with the music; the music that is loud, pumped out around the room to ‘raise the roof’ to ‘motivate’ and to ‘excite’ EVERYONE in the room.

Having recently decided to stop ‘messing around with diets and fads’ and actual take control of my eating, my inner nutrients and my health, I looked to my cousin for support.  She introduced me to Herbalife, a safe, clean, nutrition fuelled way of eating, not a ‘diet product’ rather a way to live, a way to improve myself from the inside out, while being able to support me through training, rock climbing, bringing up my children and running around with each of my volunteer roles.

… Fast forward a few months and here I was, sat in Manchester, watching, learning and feeling empowered by The Herbalife Summer Spectacular.

The chosen venue was literally a large box!  A MASSIVE exhibition space that was broken up and segmented by heavy curtains, false walls and carpeting.

Having previously been to Manchester a few years ago, this didn’t concern me.  With the new Google Street View App on my phone I was able to walk around the outside of EventCity, I was able to find Starbucks, plan how to get from the hotel in MediaCity, again having visited the area before, I felt OK here.

I had a room-mate for the weekend, she absolutely adored Fizz and was wonderful, even volunteering to take her out for walks having never met either of us before.

…. Back to the venue…. I was invited to sit at the front of the room, an area reserved for those prestige members, an adjustment made just for me if it would help me see the event clearer.  Sadly no where I sat would have done that, so I stayed sat with my cousin and her friends.  Fizz was fabulous, she was so calm and took all the noises and light changes in her stride, not letting it bother her at all.

In the evening, we returned to EventCity for a dinner and awards ceremony.  I though I would be OK, I though that I now knew the venue and would be OK.  I had realised in the 2 hours that we had left the venue for, that the room had changed, the big round tables were still in place, but upon our return they were dressed in white linen cloths, fully dressed with red, white and blue balloons.  The large screens were in place also, but now decorated with the same colours, there was now also a checkered dance floor and the lighting was much dimmer.

Dressed to match the colours, as advised on the invitation I found a seat with my roomy and sat down to enjoy the show.  I had preordered drinks, that she kindly collected from the bar, we had a fabulous time, laughing, chatting and watching the awards ceremony; that saw my cousins husband won first prize of £10,000 !!!

The food was interesting and incredibly difficult….. Apparently it looked very pretty, but served on white plates with dim lights and light coloured food, it was a bit of a struggle for a VIP like me !

I survived though, my anxiety didn’t get the better of me, I had a pretty good time and I am now going to be giving away my inner turmoils of the weekend to those who were with me and will hopefully be reading this.


 

 

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