Sunday 31 March 2013

Inspiration Sunday with Claire Wade

Today's interview is with a new friends and an exceptionally inspirational woman, read of to find out why...

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.... 

My name’s Claire Wade and I live in Norwich, England (it’s in the rounded bump on the right). I run Live in Love in Laugh in, creating virtual vacations, holidays from home and parties in your pyjamas. I’ve had ME/CFS for twenty years, since I was ten and I spend the majority of time finding fun things to do when you can’t go out.
My passion in life is stories. I love any form of storytelling: books, films, music, ballet, the theatre, art. My personal way to tell stories is to write, it’s the thing I love most in all the world, being able to transport someone with just my words is the most amazing feeling. I use it every day in my work at Live in Love in Laugh in and I’m also working on my first novel. Life is really fun right now.

2. Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Most of my inspiration comes from the “real” world and things I see on television or the internet. If I see an event or a place that looks like fun I automatically start to work out how I can adapt it, what I could do to make it home-bound friendly, so that I and my clients can be a part of it.
I also meditate and I’m amazed at the ideas that come, seemingly from nowhere. It’s the same when I write; I often feel like I’m just taking dictation, that the thoughts are coming from somewhere much bigger than me.

3. Tell us about your business...

Live in Love in Laugh in is all about having fun at home, living life the best way you can, no matter what obstacles you face. I wanted to create a community of people who were looking for fun, friendship and things to look forward to, just like I was.
I throw parties you can enjoy in your pyjamas, curled up in bed or on the sofa and I organise holidays/vacations to places you may not be able to physically get to; but you can still explore and enjoy. It's all about having fun, adapting what you are able do to have an amazing life.
I write the parties and vacations as guided visualisations; but instead of lying on a beach, you do cool stuff like going to the theatre, movies or to Buckingham Palace. You can drive in sports cars, go up in helicopters, do paintballing, archery and swim with dolphins. Fun, relaxing and definitely not boring!

For New Year's Eve we had a virtual bonfire on a beach. Valentine's Day we did virtual archery, cupid style and then had afternoon tea in a rose garden. I include crafts, recipes and other fun things for people to do.
Last summer we “went” to London for the Olympics, doing lots of sight-seeing with my virtual guides which people can read or listen to. It was fun exploring the city, especially going online to see some amazing web cameras, it felt like we were really there, all together.
The Live in Love in Laugh in community are lovely, they get really involved in the events, taking photos, some even dress up and we chat online, sharing the party. It’s perfect for holidays when you feel alone and left out, it makes times like New Year’s Eve much easier to cope with and we have a lot of fun!

4. What led you to start your business.... 

I came up with the idea while I was bedbound for six years. My friends were away at University and I was stuck in a darkened room 24/7. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through and I struggled to find ways to cope. I felt so trapped and the only way I could escape was through my imagination.
Some of my family went away for a week on holiday, leaving Mum (my full time carer) and I behind. I was really upset. "Why can't I go on holiday?" kept going round and round in my head, coupled with intense anger and sadness; but somewhere along the way the question shifted to "Why can't I go on holiday?" Subtly different; but it made me think of ways I could have a holiday. I realised I could travel in my own way, using my imagination. This was how the idea of a holiday from home or a virtual vacation came about. Mum and I enjoyed a holiday to Greece. We had pictures up round the room, so I could look at them while I lay in bed. We ate feta, olives and Greek yoghurt, threw plates (paper ones - much safer than china) and paddled in the Aegean Sea, also known as a foot spa.

It was so much fun and we laughed a lot. It was much better than the alternative of being really sad and depressed for the week.
I developed the idea to include parties, celebrating my birthday and New Year’s Eve
I realised that so many people were in a similar position of being stuck at home, either because of illness or disability like me; but also through other factors like caring for family or working from home. I wanted to share my “virtual” adventures with them and give them something to look forward to.
I still have ME, so it’s been a gradual process setting up the business; but I love what I do. It’s given me something to live for and has been a focus when the rest of my life has felt unbearable.

5. What does an average day look like for you?

I still have ME, so my average day is tailored to my energy levels. I have to pace myself; but I’ve learnt how to get the most from my time. I’ve never been an early riser, so I allow myself to wake up naturally and ease into the day with a smoothie. Then it’s a couple of hours of me, curled up on the sofa in my pyjamas, with my trusty laptop.

The internet has meant I can achieve so much that would otherwise be impossible, without it Live in Love in Laugh in would not exist. My first stop in the morning is our online community to catch up with everyone, and then it’s time to get down to writing. Depending on what’s coming up I’ll either be researching an event or a destination. I’m currently working on New York for our vacation in August. I love doing the background work, finding amazing websites, related crafts and delicious recipes to try!

Once I have the facts sorted I can then get creative and escape into my imagination. I write the trips so that I enjoy creating them. If I’m having fun I know my community will too.
I do all the production myself, creating the e-magazine and also recording it all into mp3s so people can listen to them. I love watching it all coming together, seeing something that was so clear in my imagination becoming a reality.

My energy lasts for a couple of hours and then I have sleep in the afternoon, it recharges me to keep going through the rest of the day. Evenings are relaxed, I can sometimes go out or I’m happy catching up with the TV or some reading.

Eleven pm is about the time my creativity kicks in and it’s when I work on my novel. I find I write best during those midnight hours when it’s dark and the house is quiet. It’s when I feel most alive.
Then it’s off to bed, blessing all the good things that have happened that day and looking forward to all that’s to come tomorrow.

6. What is the one thing about your job that makes your heart sing? 

The people make my heart sing! I have met the most amazing, inspiring, beautiful people and I love interacting with them. The events take a lot of work; but it’s completely worth it on the day when I can settle back and enjoy the experience. I get just as involved as the rest of the community, doing the activities, chatting online. It’s so much fun and I love seeing everyone else joining in.
We may never have met in person; but it feels like we’re really good friends. They’re why I do what I do and I feel so blessed to be able to spend time with them.

7. Share a secret with us that has never been shared online before 

I’ve not met the Queen; but I was invited to her Jubilee Garden party last year. I was so nervous; but so excited! We sat diagonally opposite her, about twenty metres away. I thought she looked like a lovely old lady, just like someone’s Grandma. I wanted to give her a hug!

Find Claire...

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