This Life; Questions of identity

Christine Mclean, a twice-married mother-of-two, is The Wife Coach.

The 47-year-old former nurse and midwife, of Roundhay, Leeds, now provides help and advice to women on how to achieve a life balance, identify priorities and realise their own identity.

Christine is a master practitioner with a qualification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) which is official training on helping to make life changes.

But she also has some life experiences to draw on. Rod McPhee found out more.

The thing that might surprise people about me is that in the 1980s I used to work as a midwife in a hospital in Beverley Hills in Los Angeles.

We saw quite a few famous faces in there like David Hasselhoff and Jack Nicholson, even though I didn't always know who they were.

When Jon Bon Jovi came in I dealt with him and it just didn't realise I was talking to a rock star, and when I came out of the room all the other nurses came rushing up and were asking: "What's he like? What's he like?" and I just looked bemused and said: "What is WHO like?"

Actually, he was very nice, very smiley and quiet and seemed a bit nervous, but I helped deliver his wife's baby with no problems.

My first crush was on David Cassidy. he narrowly pipped Donny Osmond to that post but only because he was a bit cooler. I'd love to meet Cassidy, and might have when I was working in LA. Actually, I probably did meet him and didn't recognise him!

The person I'd most like to meet though would be Marilyn Monroe. I am intrigued as to what sort of person she really was. All we know about her is how her fame was manipulated and it all went wrong but when you see pictures of her as a young girl she looks so vibrant and full of life and I'd love to sit down with her and find out what happened to her between then and when she died.

The thing I'm most proud of is running my own business – I didn't think I could do it. I trained as a nurse and midwife from leaving school at 18 and did that up to about 1997 when I moved into management at the NHS.

I've been doing The Wife Coach for six years now and I think it's important to have some life experience to draw on.

I was still in my early 30s when my first husband left me with two kids aged just two and four. Just a week after that happened my mother died and it was very, very difficult.

But there were lots of strong female figures in my life who really lifted me up and gave me support and inspiration.

And I suppose that's what I want to do with The Wife Coach because a lot of women give and give and give and then reach a point where they ask themselves: "Who am I?" because they've been a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a partner, a lover, all of these things.

But then it's about realising who you are as an individual as well and finding some kind of balance based around that.

The one thing I couldn't live without is my family and friends. They lift you up and make you feel better about yourself. On those fat days they're the ones who turn round and say: "You know, you look really great today."

I'm also incredibly proud of my kids Laura, 17, and Adam, 14, who sing and act. When I see them on stage I get an enormous welling of pride.

I cry all the time. I cry at cartoons. I think the last time I shed a tear was watching Willy the Operatic Whale – it's very sad because he dies at the end! My children are very embarrassed by me.

My most embarrassing moment was when I was a young student nurse and I used to wear a big floaty skirt. One day the wind got up and blew it right up over the back of my head. Thinking I was very clever I back up against a wall to prevent the whole of the street seeing my knickers and when I turned round I realised it wasn't a wall it was the window of a packed restaurant.

By the time I left home at 18 I was already quite worldly compared to a lot of girls of my age and generation. Mum and dad ran a pub where I lived in Oldham for most of my life and you got to meet all kinds of characters who came in through the doors. It was also a real education watching how my parents interacted with people.

I came to Leeds about 20 years ago for work. The best thing about it is the countryside and the parks – I absolutely love Roundhay Park and will quite often take myself off down there when I have a spare few hours. I think the city is very lucky to have the quality and abundance of parks it has.

My grandmother gave me the best piece of advice ever and that's if you can't change something "Throw it over your shoulder". In other words: if you can't fix something abandon it and move on to something you can fix.

And that's my philosophy on life: focus on the positives

rather than the negatives. Life is full of good things and lots of bad things, but if you concentrate on what's good in your life and set yourself goals then you'll live a much happier life. We all naturally tend to pay more attention to things which go wrong rather than concentrate on what is right in our lives. We take so much for granted, but what I say is: "You're alive aren't you?" That's something in itself.


Food: Italian

Author: Michael Neill, Mitch Albom, Susan Jeffers

BOOK: The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Movie: Elf

Actor: Jason Statham

Holiday: Family trip to Los Angeles

Music: Swing, Robbie Williams and Michael Buble

Star sign: Capricorn

£30m business rates bonus for Leeds and its neighbour cities