Category Archives: Brain Injury

Where’s Penny Been?

**Long Post Alert** I thank you now for indulging me as I answer the question, “Where’s Penny Been?”

Coming up with a focus word for 2019 was a big challenge. Before I found a word I had to do some soul searching…

…I’ve been absent for a while now. Life became overwhelming and I finally stopped most everything for a bit. I took a few months off to rest and regroup. I stopped participating in anything that wasn’t necessary for me and my spirit. A new year can be a fresh start. I just had to figure out what I needed to restart.

You may or may not know that I have two direct sales businesses as well as a virtual assistant gig. All three are part time while I work a full time job in the retail industry, which quite honestly, is kicking my ass. Having to be on the sales floor two days a week (sometimes more) as a “sales person” is doing me in physically and emotionally. I hate it. It’s a necessary evil so I can enjoy the other part of my job.

The VA work I do has grown to a 10-15 hour a week gig. Add that to a 40 hour a week job and that’s a lot of hours worked. Add to that working two direct sales businesses and that balance thing becomes tricky.

I learned in August that I had let my drivers license lapse, and it took four frustrating months to get the paperwork I I needed to renew it. A stupid accident threw me into a tailspin, and the whole thing was kind of the final straw for me.

Friday, January 11 marked the three year anniversary of my fall from the ladder. If you don’t know the story, I fell from the top of a six foot ladder, through some metal shelving, landing on the cement floor of my garage. My head literally fell 11 feet. Miraculously, I was able to get up off the floor and seek help. My head injury was mis-diagnosed and I spent the next two years recovering. My doc says that I’m actually still recovering, which I can’t wrap my head around.

Life changed in a big way that day.

If you touch my head in the right place, you can feel the now healed skull fracture. I am still afraid to put my head directly on a pillow. I still sleep at an incline with a pillow behind my neck to protect that spot from touching anything. I still feel the tingling in that area now and then, which I’m told is the blood flowing through the uneven area under my skull. I named that sensation Herman, as when it happens, I know it’s going to be a hard day. That damn Herman, messing with my head!

Some days I battle between how things are now and how things used to be. It’s difficult to describe, as the “changes” appear somewhat subtle on the outside looking in.

You can’t see that I can no longer tolerate my beloved spicy food. There is absolutely no medical reason for that. My doctor says it’s a coincidence. But since that day, my body no longer tolerates hot peppers, sriracha, and any form of heavy, spicy, hot goodness. I miss it.

You don’t really notice my inability to multitask as I used to. I will ask you now and then to hold a thought while I try to finish something. Other times you may see me staring at nothing, trying to complete my thought. I still lose my words, but not as often. I keep a lot of notes in notepads, scratch paper and an online to-do list program I found. It’s taken three years, but I finally have a system that works for me.

Most importantly I think, I lost my confidence and I haven’t regained it. I’m not quite the same person I used to be. That bothers me. A lot.

I’m battling lower back pain more and more, and I’ve developed plantar facialitis, both of which leave me drained at the end of the day when they are bad. I am pushing through it. I will happily take a migraine any day of the week than deal with that pain. This makes exercise a challenge, and I finally gave up. Now it’s a catch 22. I need to get back at it, as doing nothing is…doing nothing for me.

2016 also brought the passing of the parental units. I still hold much anger and resentment where they are concerned, though I don’t yell at them as often as I did. The mother’s passing was pure selfishness. The acts of her sister, unforgivable. I try not to let the anger surface too much. I am angry for myself and my brother. We were shortchanged, and I’m thankful we both have people in our lives to help fill that void a bit.

I’ve learned a great deal the last three years about my “other family”, the one I was not allowed to know. Of how the parents went to extremes to ensure no contact, and what I call the miracle of them pulling it off when we lived in a small town. My biological father lived less than seven miles away most of my life. He was best kept secret ever! I’m still amazed that people simply went along with it, never revealing the truth.

It was mostly the mother’s doing, but the father was not blind to what was being done and he supported her in the great cover-up. Choices were made, lives manipulated, lies told. I truly wish I’d known the truth of it decades sooner. I was so blind. That makes me angry.

I recently saw a photo of the grandparents I never met holding me as a baby, the bio father I never knew in the background. It took the wind out of my sails. The people I had heard about were real. They didn’t look like the monsters I was told they were (over and over and over.) They didn’t look like people I should have feared. They were simply…human beings who were also hurt in the crazy that was the mother. It’s a tough pill to swallow. I’m grateful for an incredibly patient aunt who answers my questions while never saying an unkind word about the parents. She’s helped me fill in many blanks. Maybe one day I will meet more of them. Maybe not. It’s not easy.

I began using a human growth hormone gel about four months ago. I got on an antidepressant around September because my doctor and I decided it couldn’t hurt the exhaustion and edginess I was experiencing. I am feeling “better” these days. That edge is gone. I am calmer, I don’t get my feathers ruffled as easily as I did, and I feel my mood is much more even.

I had no idea how the HGH was helping until I stopped using it. It’s expensive, so I slowed down the use then kinda stopped. But damn! I was SLEEPING at night, and there were other things it was doing for me that complimented the other. The two together had me experiencing a calm I’ve never known. As I lay here on the middle of the night writing this, I miss the sleep part. Yes, I’m “back on the gel” (sounds funny, huh?)

If you can’t yet tell, I’ve been overwhelmed for a while and spinning. What I need to do is find my balance again, as well as my confidence. Develop a plan. Decide what I want out of my businesses and choose a path that I can grow with. Get that balance back. Grow my confidence. Disassemble what’s not working and rebuild.

I enjoy the products I sell. I have struggled with some of the internal things associated with the companies, but I keep those feelings separate. The products are amazing.

I have decided I need to build a business strategy this year and work it. There’s great potential there if I can simply get past all of this. Where will that lead? I don’t know. Will I still have three side gigs this time next year? No idea.

So, what word did I choose?

Metanoia. The journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life.

It’s a word I stumbled upon a few years back. I’ve kept it tucked away, and after weeks of struggling to find the right word or phrase, I stumbled upon it again.

It’s fitting. I need to be consistent, find balance, be brave. In doing so, the other things will fall into place and my path will come into focus.

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What is My Why?

17498732_1699579173402640_5592608514390051298_nThis article first appeared on Sassy Direct on August 27, 2017.

Someone asked me recently, “Why Willing Beauty?”  My “Why” is a bit long and involves an ankle brace, a boot, air conditioning, money, and tenacity.

In 2014 I decided I wanted to do a half marathon.  I have never been an athlete, but it sounded like something cool to do when I turned 50.  I didn’t know if I would walk or run, but I knew I would do it.  I had a year and a half to prepare.  I had time to train and choose a race, and I was excited.  I started walking.  One morning I was walking downtown, hitting my stride, and I felt my ankle turn under.  I fell.  Hard.  I hit the ground and I felt incredible pain all over.

People stopped and tried to help me up, and I said no, I’m fine, I’m just a clutz.  I got myself up and limped to a nearby bench.  I looked down to see that my knees and shins were a bloody mess, as was my hand and water bottle (which I had been holding when that hand hit the ground.)  No wonder passers by and the people who tried to help looked so concerned.  I washed them off with my water bottle, sat for a few minutes, and decided to continue on. 

I walked about three miles that morning.  When I got back to my car, I took off my shoes and socks and saw stars.  My ankle had been sore during the walk, but when the sock and shoe came off? It was swelled double, horribly bruised, and it hurt like hell.  The doc said that when I removed the sock and shoe, I released the blood and tissue that was keeping it compressed.  He put me in a brace and sent me to physical therapy.  I had torn ligaments, and I was a mess.

It got better, slowly, and I walked a 5k in that brace in October 2014.  58 minutes, hitting my goal of less than an hour, two months after that fall.

2015 was the year to really train.  I walked another 5K in March, improving on my time by about 5 minutes.  Excellent.  Not long after that 5K, my wayward ankle turned under again.  It was worse than before, and I ended up in a boot.  It took longer to bounce back.

I persevered. I continued walking, increasing my speed. Three friends and I signed up for the Disney Princess 5K to be held in February 2016, a few weeks after I would turn 50.  We needed to be able to walk it with a 15 minute per mile pace or better.  We were gonna DO this thing.  (We really just wanted the T-Shirt and medal.)

In the summer of 2015, my air conditioner decided to begin a slow descent into oblivion.  I poured what I had into keeping it going, as I couldn’t afford a new one.  The financial burden of living on the edge for so many years was taking a toll on me, but I had my walking and Disney to keep me focused.  This was just another bump in the road.

After Thanksgiving, I signed up with a coach, someone who could help me walk my 15-minute mile and reach my goal.   She was affordable, and I really liked our sessions. Things were looking up again.

On December 23, 2015, my air conditioner took its last breath.  It was 90 degrees that day, and we were looking at those temps taking us to the new year.  I was devastated.  I simply could not afford $5-6K for a new system, no matter how I ran the numbers.  You see, I live in Florida.  This was, in my mind, catastrophic.

I dragged myself out, put on a happy face, and spent Christmas with friends.  I tried to push the home issues down and enjoy the day.  There was a visit my bestie, a trip to Tampa for lunch with more friends and then we went to see the new Star Wars movie. It turned out to be a wonderful day and I was thankful.  I actually had fun.  That evening as I was leaving, my weak ankle turned under again.  This time I was on my friend’s front steps and the fall was spectacular.  I’m pretty sure I scared her family.  The ankle was blown again, worse than the first two times.

The next few weeks remain a blur.  Pain. Fear. Anxiety. The boot. My ankle was so bad and I was so miserable.  I spent New Years Day trying to figure out how to change this ridiculous trajectory I was on.  Someone had reached out to me a few days earlier about joining a Direct Sales company.  I decided to see what that was about.  I joined on New Year’s Day, having no idea what I was going to be selling.

2016 was unpleasant. On January 11, 2016, my cat escaped to the garage and climbed up on the loft area over the kitchen.  I climbed a ladder to get her (without my boot.)  I lost my balance and the ladder toppled over.  My head fell 11 feet to the cement floor.  Metal shelving broke my fall.  I miraculously was able to stand up and get myself into the house.  You can see photos and the story here.  An undiagnosed concussion would wreak havoc from then on.

I turned 50 with zero fanfare.  In fact, I was incredibly sick and miserable.  There was no celebration.  I had nothing to celebrate.  I was living with no air conditioning in Florida.  My ankle hurt all the time.  The concussion was bad, and I was having a hard time with simple things like remembering my words and driving.  I struggled with using the products that I was selling.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I stumbled upon a Facebook group whose goal was to provide training to direct sellers.  Proper training.  The group was all about attraction marketing and not spamming.  It was the opposite of what I’d been exposed to, and I decided to learn as much as I could.

Our mother died in April.  She and I had grown estranged for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into.  My brother took the brunt of all the crap that was her life and her final few months.  Suffice it to say, recovering from that took a toll on both of us for a very long time. (I still yell at her from time to time.)  A brief summary of that time can be found in my posts Derailed and Life is a Choice…Just Choose.

Somehow I survived summer.  I got into a routine of when to open the windows when to close them when to leave the house and when to go home.  My business was not going anywhere, mostly because I could not use the product.  How could I sell something I could not use?  I am stubborn and continued to try to make it work.

In September my niece had a baby.  A miracle of life and something positive during a time when my brother was struggling with too many burdens related to our parents. Burdens I could not help with, and for which I will always feel guilt.  I saw that baby as his reward for being a good son.  I was happy for him and his new family.  I was still quietly struggling.

In November our father died.  The parental saga was over.  It had been a horrible, sad, devastating year.  I honestly don’t recall much of the end of the year.  A lot of grief, a lot of anger, and still, a product that I could not use.

2017 arrived and I declared things had to look up.  I would figure out the money and the business.  Living with a brain injury quite literally changed my life, my focus, and my priorities. (And yes, I’m still recovering.)

In February a friend who I’d gotten know in that Facebook group reached out and told me about a new company that was starting and a ground floor opportunity.  I ran the numbers quickly in my head and told her no and thank you for thinking of me.

The problem was, I could not let it go.  I kept running the numbers.  Looking at the opportunity.  Researching the company.  I started saving.  I wanted in on Willing Beauty.  My friend was building an amazing team and had an amazing mentor.  The product was exactly what I wanted to use at a price point I could afford.  I started saving.

In April I surprised my friend and joined.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do or how, but I knew I had to be part of this from the beginning.  I had learned so much in the last year and a half, I knew I could make this happen. I began using the product.

My skin loved it.  I had no issues.  NO ISSUES.  I shared HY+5 regimens and an Essentials regimen with close friends and family.  Dry skin, oily skin, combination skin – we all could USE IT!  I resigned from the other DS company to focus on Willing Beauty.

It’s now the end of August.  There have been hiccups and there have been changes.  That is always the case with something new, right?  Willing Beauty officially launched on August 1.  I have customers.  I have a wonderful mentor and an amazing upline.  I’m building a team.  It’s beginning.

I continue to be told that my skin looks really good.  My fine lines have lessened, the tone and texture are better and my skin feels hydrated all day.  This product really IS as good as they said it would be.  What I like almost as much is that I can FINALLY be a walking billboard for what I sell.

Some of my friends, people my age, are beginning to retire.  I obviously didn’t plan as well as they did.  I’m incredibly happy for them, don’t get me wrong.  But it’s in the back of my mind, taunting me.  I see other friends working well into their 70’s, and it’s hard for them, physically and mentally.  Thier lives didn’t turn out exactly as they had imagined either.  It hurts my heart.

At some point in the last few months, I woke up scared. I don’t want a third Florida summer with no air conditioning.  I don’t want to work into my 70’s.  Hell, I don’t want to work into my 60’s.  I’m 51 years old. I need a solid retirement plan.  I need a home that I can live in and not visit each evening to sleep and shower.  I want to swallow my anxiety and put my walking shoes back on.  Walk before Run.  I think it applies to both my half marathon and my business.  Time, training, hard work, enjoy the rewards.

I’m not afraid of hard work.  I’ve worked since I was 14. I know how to work.  I’m devising a plan and creating goals.  I’ve never done that before, so I’m seeking advice.  I WILL transition from working full time and doing Willing Beauty in the off hours to working party time and doing Willing Beauty full time.  Then I will not need a “real job” at all.

The culmination of the last three years is my “Why”.  Willing Beauty is still ground floor.  The compensation plan is great, and the path to get there is doable.  It is DOABLE!  I just have to be willing to put in the work.  Work and sacrifice now to ensure I have a future. Walk before Run.   I’m good with that.

Where can you buy Willing Beauty? You may visit my website at  fiftysetgo.willingbeauty.com and shop our products.  Don’t forget about our 100% Happiness Guarantee! It promises that if our products are not right for you, they can be returned for a full refund, including shipping, no matter if the bottles are full or empty. We believe in our products THAT much!

You may also join my community at www.pennyslounge.com.  There we discuss important topics of the day (like the weather or what kind of milkshakes we like) and share about the journey we call life.  If you’d like to know more, give me a shout at penny.fiftysetgo@gmail.com.  I’ll be happy to answer your questions and tell you more.

 

 

 

What’s Herman Been Up To?


Does a skull fracture heal or just float around? I should probably find this out. I swear that there are days when Herman is bothering me, but not in the usual place.

A CT scan is $300…or $400, in either case, it’s kind of a lot and I’ve not gotten around to it. Yet. I’m thinking I need to, as good ole Herman continues to raise his head now and then. 

Herman doesn’t like extreme heat. When I get overheated, he acts up. It’s summer in Florida. Herman is restless. 

He still does not like lifting or any type of exertion. Damn it Herman, I need to be able to DO things! I need to exercise, and I need to lift things at work without you wreaking havoc the rest of the day. 

Today was one of those days. I lifted a 35 pound or so item up from the floor and into a wagon. I ended up with a headache. My coworker jumped in my case, worried that I’d hurt my back. I didn’t even tell her that I had woken up Herman. He and I simply spent the rest of the day co-existing. 

I think my memory is as improved as it’s going to get. Long term is pretty good. Short term can be spotty. Somethings I remember really well. Some things I don’t. I have noticed that on “Herman Days”, the memory isn’t as good as it should be. I’ve decided I need note cards in my pocket and purse to help me with things I need to know at the drop of a hat. Key points. Elevator speeches. 

One really annoying thing with all this is me trying to learn everything I can about Willing Beauty – the company, the product lines, all of it. Some things have stuck well. Some just don’t stick at all. I find that if I read something over and over, and study a lot, it helps. I didn’t have to study this hard in high school or college!

There is a bright spot in the Herman saga! Yes, I said a bright spot! It’s really exciting. Are you ready??? 

I am able to put more of my head on a pillow. That’s huge. I still sleep at an incline with a pillow under my neck. It’s kinda comfortable, I don’t snore, and I don’t wake up sore. I kind of like it. But I can get more of my head on a pillow for a longer period of time now than I could even six months ago, so that’s good. Plus, it gives the kitties a place to snuggle next to me (they do love a good pillow.)
I’ve begun to wonder, is it all in my head? Maybe I’m all better and my head just THINKS I’m not. Sometimes I think it’s all a dream and I will wake up. Oh how wonderful that would be?!?! I don’t think that is going to happen though, so I need to keep making it work. Herman is, by far, the toughest relationship I’ve ever had!