Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the beautiful climbing noisette rose, Madame Elie-Abel Carrier, otherwise known as Lise Virginie? The rose formerly known to me as Madame Alfred Carrière.

In her new home, on a wall which gets a good amount of sunshine, she’s coming into bud. She’s spent a lot of her life in the shade, but now, she’s coming out of the shadows and beginning to bloom. In my world, she’s known by her real name; and she’s healthy, vibrant and beautiful.

(Head straight to the p.s. and find out what I found out, if you’re as fascinated as I was… If you just want to get to the point, carry on reading.)

I’m reclaiming the name I left behind at 21. I’m Lois Cliff. Like Lise Virginie, I’m no longer in the shadows, hiding. Healthy, resilient, and full of life, I have important life-lessons for kids so that they can live strong and whole in a chaotic world.

So here I am.

I make kids better.

I’ve spent the best part of 30 years of my life empowering kids. I left classrooms because I didn’t believe in the education system in the same way that I used to; and I finally had the chance to empower myself and write for a living.

My lockdown crisis taught me so much. It enriched and empowered, challenged and transformed me. I learned. The me I’d squashed down for so many years is now a living, breathing reality. And I want to give back what I’ve been given.

Finally understanding that my best iteration is the one bouncing around with kids in classrooms and learning spaces, I want to use my learning, my decades of experience with kids in schools, my childlike awe and wonder and love of the totally random, and my powers of persuasion to help kids understand themselves better. To help them learn how to live their truly best lives. Physically healthy and active, emotionally secure and well, mentally strong, and able to rise to any challenge life throws at them.

So, I’ve been busy, making a thing to help them.

‘WHOLE You; BEST You’ is an hour-long, bouncy-Tigger-style, interactive presentation for a class, a year group or a targeted group of students. It focuses on how to listen to yourself; how to like yourself; how to be yourself – to be whole and healthy, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Workshops build on the presentation’s content, giving students practical skills and hacks to apply to real life, so that they can face its challenges with strength and equanimity.

Why did I do this?

In a world full of chatter, so much of which is utterly self-serving, vacuous and ‘in our face’, how does a child learn who to listen to? That it’s worth taking the time to create the space to listen to their own inner voice? That they even have an inner voice, when it’s constantly being drowned out? And how would they know it was worth listening to? (Or that sometimes it tells you things that aren’t true?)

Do we want more generations of people easily hoodwinked by fake news? Of teenagers unable to deal with the day-to-day humdrum of their schooling without constant recourse to learning mentors? Of young people making life-changing decisions about their gender, for example, because they’re conditioned by a society that’s been engineered by social media and have come to believe that they’re suffering from a mental health issue, rather than the uncomfortable, awkward, chaotic lunacy that is adolescence? (Would YOU be 14 again? And no, you may not keep your years of life experience since to make it better – that only happens in movies! I wouldn’t. Not a chance.)

I got lucky. I had good friends. They pointed me in the direction of good things to read. Good podcasts to listen to. I was blessed in that I was able to afford some great sessions with a counsellor. Hell, I’d lived for 50 years. I had a bit of sense and some experience of life to fall back on.

Do we want our kids to rely on luck?

And on the chance that their friends are emotionally intelligent, well-read and going to recommend the most useful podcasts? No way.

My own children are adults now, thankfully – they’ve faced the pandemic and lockdowns with a pretty full toolkit of gear to help them through.

But others aren’t so lucky. Lockdowns, home-schooling and Google Classrooms have created a generation of kids who, now more than ever, really need strategies to help them develop life-skills, emotional strength, mental resilience, resourcefulness and understanding of what keeps them well and makes them better. They need the time – and the tools – to process what’s happened to them, as we all do.

Instead, it’s business as usual and they’re back in school doing exams, which are all going to be assessed by schools according to completely different systems, depending on whether they’re in England or NI, Scotland or Wales. (And every school can pretty much do their own thing, as long as the workload for teachers is considered manageable, it seems.) How will this help our kids? Do exams make kids better? Not in this context, no. I don’t believe they do.

So, what do kids need?

Kids need the tools to put back together the pieces that’ve been broken. Time to process, and skilled people to help them. Not exams. Not an antiquated curriculum that’s not really addressing the way modern life works. Or doesn’t, sometimes.

Because a happy, self-confident, emotionally intelligent child becomes a happy, successful, contributing member of adult society.

(It’s not just about exam results. Never has been, for me – and now more so, than ever before.)

Now, what matters is kids’ wellbeing, and their ability to make sense of life, of themselves.

Because when you think you can, you’re probably right. (And when you think you can’t, you’re probably right, too.)

I want our kids to know that THEY CAN. To have self-confidence, even when everything else around them is chaotic and confused.

To be grounded. Able to filter the fake from the valuable. Happy, and excited about what life has to offer. And about what they can offer life.

Kids should know who they are. Be proud of the amazing individuals they are. Learn that they have a voice worth listening to, worth trusting, worth sharing. And, above all, kids should learn that they don’t need to hide: they are unique of themselves, and of infinite value.

Fact-filled, engaging, and above all, fun, ‘WHOLE You; BEST You’ costs £549 and is bookable now by contacting me on lois@beeloudwords.co.uk.

Let’s start the conversation.

Let me do what I’m best at. Engaging, motivating, and inspiring kids. Not just about poetry, Shakespeare, or semi-colon usage this time.

But about stuff that really, really matters.

The stuff of a happy, healthy, successful life.

Call me: I’m on 07538 257016. Email me: lois@beeloudwords.co.uk. Or find me on LinkedIn: /in/loisatbeeloud

 

p.s. The things I found out…

She’s a very tolerant white climber, who’ll flower even on a north-facing wall. One of Gardeners World’s Monty Don’s favourites; before him, it was one of the first roses Vita Sackville-West planted in her beautiful garden at Sissinghurst.

But the thing that really fascinates me?

Her name.

Madame Alfred Carrière. Alfred. Not a woman’s name. But she lived in an era when women were a kind of accessory in the world of men. Property, if you like. I started digging. (I’m a gardener – it’s something I have to do…)

With the help of a LinkedIn connection who’s also a genealogist – thank you so much, Sara Donaldson! – I found out who she was, as well as something even more intriguing.

Alfred Carrière wasn’t her husband’s real name. Hence, Madame Alfred Carrière, by definition, wasn’t hers either.

Alfred Carrière was the editor of a horticult­ural periodical, the Révue Horticole, in Paris in the mid 19th century, a prolific writer and well-respected expert on conifers, who was made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for his services to horticulture.

His real name? Elie-Abel Carrier (b.1818; d.1896). He was Jewish. In an anti-Semitic France, to be accepted by the über-conservative gardening fraternity, he’d changed his name.

Hiding in plain sight, he was a well-respected horticultural figure after whose wife a famous breeder of roses, Joseph Schwartz, named this charming white climbing rose in 1879.

Elie-Abel’s first wife had died not long after their marriage, it seems. He married again, and his wife, Lise Virginie, his devoted companion, gave birth to twin girls, one of whom, tragically, didn’t survive long. His little survivor, Louise, died age 8. He never recovered from the sadness of all that loss. (We have no knowledge of how his wife dealt with it – I really don’t want to think about the pain she must have felt.)

Do we know anything more than this? About either of them? Not really. (If by some miracle, you do, please get in touch!)

So, Lise Virginie Carrier – welcome to my world; you make it a more beautiful place; thank you.

The Carriers shouldn’t have had to hide. Neither should our kids.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Steve Wilkinson says:

    I love the story of your late blooming Lise Virginie. I once planted an avocado stone and forgot about it. Then it germinated and survived two winters and some football related damage. I read somewhere that it could take 10 years to bear fruit – it would be a long term project. I forgot about it during the last winter which wasn’t particularly cold but then I was sad to find it was dead in February. Maybe it got waterlogged and maybe I should have taken more notice. It’s not coming back but I can try again with another avocado stone. It’s never too late to learn or just try again and hope for better luck. I think your sessions sound ace – do you need an adult helper??!

    • lois says:

      Steve, thank you so much for reading my blog! You’ve helped more than you know – I’ll tell you when I see you! Try again with the avocado, maybe…? x

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