Staying calm when the waters get choppy

To coin an old-fashioned phrase, I got stitched up like a kipper this week, all in the name of doing a good turn. Our faces were plastered across a page in The Daily Telegraph with a quote slapped above us, that I hadn’t said. It read: ‘I gazundered my property seller and got £20,000 off the asking price.’

I’d never heard of the world gazundered and I didn’t get £20,000 of any asking price by doing it. I hate having my photo taken and did look a bit like the smug middle-class Aga owner that the disgruntled DT readers took me for.

This all started when I saw that a journalist was looking for people who had been forced to reduce offers on properties when the interest rates went into freefall last October. We were in the process of buying a bungalow at the time, the banks downvalued it massively, refused to lend us the money they originally said they would, and so, we had to reduce our offer by £15K. The vendor accepted and here we are, happy bungalow owners.

Hardly the crime of the century, but let me share some of the comments with you:

Self aggrandising morally bankrupt scum

She’s the worst PR on the planet

What a complete pair of charlatans

I think ‘filth’ would also fit the bill

They don’t spend much on their clothes, looks like she’s been drinking vinegar. Shameful behaviour, if she had any shame

They look a boring pair

You get the picture. A few people called us c***s too. In fairness, the article contained all the facts, but these people saw the pictures, read the headline, and made all kinds of judgments about us.

I still can’t quite believe I had sleepwalked into this. When the paper rang to say they were coming to take my picture, I said that nobody had asked me if I’d be photographed, plus, it was just a few quotes, wasn’t it? I didn’t want to be a pain, because I know what it’s like when case studies withdraw at the last minute. I also didn’t want to upset the journalist – I need them onside for my work as a PR.

In truth, I am not that bothered by these comments, because I know that they are made by bitter, unhappy people who cannot resist an online pile-on because it makes them feel better about themselves. My husband and I also saw the funny side and spent a good few hours hooting with laughter over some of the things people had said about us. I was a bit worried however, when the story ended up on LinkedIn, where I am listed as a PR. Let’s face it, it’s not great PR!

A few years ago, I might have fired off a letter to the Daily Telegraph threatening to sue, but I am not that person any more. Since embarking on this spiritual path, I try and look for the lesson in things, what could this teach me? Why had it happened, etc?

As a PR and a journalist, I often put people forward for newspaper articles and sometimes the comments are vile, even when the story is positive and good-natured. Some people get really upset by this. I always tell them not to read the comments because they say more about the people making them, but sometimes my words fall on deaf ears. It is good for me to experience this firsthand. I will be more cautious and a lot more understanding as a result.

I thought about how, in life, there are always ups and downs and the secret is, to maintain that connection to source. Whatever is going on outside, there is always an inner calm and deep stillness inside. Make contact with it and you’ll glide through stormy waters without too much damage.

I started my third novel recently and my protagonist is a faded reality TV star who is having to cope with online abuse. This has been a real eye-opener for me when it comes to writing the story! Perhaps I manifested this whole situation to that end.

I’m already yesterday’s news, fortunately, a lesson has been learned, I’ve laughed about it and the universe has laughed with me.

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