I have been wanting to share my story for quite some time now…busy work + life has not permitted me to do so…but today is the time.
15 + years ago I Tana Hallows started a product business, called sweetpea baby, high quality bracelets and apparel and accessories for littles as well as minky blankets called woobies, + bibs + burp cloths and the first ever pacifier clips. As a new mother to two small kids it was a fun creative outlet…it grew and grew through trade shows and with NO SOCIAL MEDIA, to selling in over 200+ stores…it was easy for me to do it part-time for 10 years while still raising and caring for my family as well it allowed me to contribute to our income. After 4 kids and 10 years years working from home in my spare time…6 years ago I started blogging and doing some social media marketing while pregnant with my 5th baby. After having my baby I decided to take a new direction with my business starting Mom’s Best Network…a platform for moms in sharing inspiration and tips….It was the beginning of this world of influencer marketing and very little was being done…Once Instagram. twitter, facebook began I was there, I continued to build and grow my platforms as well as unique ways to help and share with mothers and women. It grew fast and big, we were looked at and known as a trusted resource for both mothers women, bloggers and brands. I was part of creating the very first successful blogger + product events. They were very successful but I found if I wasn’t focused online as well, meaning blogging and social media, my business would become obsolete. So I started doing both!! Moms Best continued as a big name online as well I launched this platform Destination Nursery a giveaway series to share in my expertise with mothers and women as well as offer a connection with brands and products which I had strong ties with from my previous experience. Long story short….
A few things changed for me almost 2 years ago, I was living a very active/healthy lifestyle. Probably the best shape of my life, one late evening while out of town, I wasn’t feeling well, standing in the laundry room I called for my husband, he came in and I passed out. I soon came too shortly thereafter, then began throwing up for 45 mins straight, any slight movement and I would throw up again. I couldn’t open my eyes as the room would not stop spinning…after throwing up for so long, my husband then rushed me to the emergency room. A CT scan found nothing, they watched me overnight with no change by morning. Oddly they never did an MRI, which would have explained everything. Baffled doctors without a clue decided it was an inner ear virus and sent me home. I slept for almost 3 days straight. With heart issues running in my family, we contacted a family cardiologist to get me right in, hoping to get answers for why this was really happening to me. After a few days had passed I stopped throwing up but was still very nauseous, and I could not for the life of me walk straight, my balance was completely off and I could not keep myself up. The room still felt like it was spinning but not as bad. I could not think straight, and I kept on jumbling my words. Never drinking a day in my life, I was told that I literally walked as if I were drunk…I could not walk without assistance.
Early that week the doctor got me right in and through tests found that I had a hole in my heart. A PFO, which could have been a likely cause for my symptoms but why….he ordered an MRI as he felt it would give us more answers. My Insurance would not pay for the MRI unless I was admitted through the emergency room so two days later I went to this hospital’s emergency room, the doctor ordered the MRI and I got it.
This explained everything....they found that in the back of my head in the Cerebellum I had had a stroke. And not only had I had one, they said it had happened twice before. With no other symptoms besides this one time, I truly see the miracles. As well the MIRACLE that it did not happen in any other spot on my head. Because it was in the back of my head it mostly just affected my balance, slightly to the right or left, I would be in a wheelchair, or worse, DEAD. I was then admitted to the hospital for them to plan and perform surgery on my heart. Which fixing that hole would leave me with a 1 in a million chance I would ever have a STROKE again.
The technology for this surgery is amazing and they can go through your main artery without opening your chest up. Much simpler recovery for sure…at first they suggested I get a walker or a cane to help me walk straight but I refused as I didn’t want to become dependant on something as I wanted to help myself gain the strength and learn to do it eventually on my own. This took several months, but my kids, my hubby, anything I could brace myself with helped me stay up and within 3-5 months you could hardly tell that I was not walking super straight. Even now to this day I get up sometimes and walk in a big half circle while I gain my balance. Most days when I get tired at the end of the day, when walking I still have to anchor with a wall or whatever I can as it becomes even harder to walk upright.
This image below was within 2 weeks of surgery, it was spring break and we had already had a road trip planned to see the redwoods. Even though I slept most of the trip my kids and hubby had a wonderful time!
You would never know by looking at me right now that this ever happened. For months I would say the wrong words for many things, like say the laundry room when I meant the fridge.
It was a struggle in so many ways...and unfortunately despite what I was going through I had more HARD things to deal with, within a week of surgery, my assistant whom I had trusted for 6 + months with managing all key marketing affairs...due to a large mistake with a brand, I unfortunately had to let her go...after letting her know, she sorta went rogue creating some outrageous misconceptions, judged me and my business based on no facts and decided for whatever reason she was going to do her best to wreak havoc...she called me a liar, began bullying me with emails of nasty threats to me as well as sending emails to several brands we worked with telling them lies and negativity. The crazy thing, she really did not know the first thing about me or my business but in her mind she believed her misconceptions. It was disappointing and disheartening to say the least as I had done so much to help her and I TRUSTED her. For several months before all of this happened my husband saw the red flags and wanted me to let her go on several occasions...but I had too big of a heart and gave her the benefit of the doubt as I wanted to help her and I knew her family depended on the income.
OUR BUSINESS success + our analytics spoke louder than her negative words and the GOOD we had done and were doing to help others in so many ways was enough for us to keep ourselves going!
With ALL of these challenges, for a very brief time….I seriously thought about quitting. But something deep down drove me on as I realized this is NOT ABOUT ME!
I struggled back to normalcy in my health and its still only about 80% but I’m so grateful as it could have been worse. I worked hard to get back on top of what I was doing in my work….this experience ultimately helped me realize 2 things,
1: life’s too short to not focus on your family and your passions and
2: I needed to downsize the things I was doing and FOCUS.
So I stopped Mom’s Best and focused on destination nursery as my true passion is design and styling interior spaces, as well I turned my focus to build what I was doing personally as an influencer.
It has taken me almost two years to be ok with saying the word STROKE as there are so many negative connotations….I still really can’t believe this had happened to me.
I pushed through to get back to working after the first 5 months…even though I could not confidently walk straight or words did not come out as fast or coherently as I wanted, I was unable to exercise for the first 8 months besides just walking and I could not do that confidently yet.
I love zumba and had done it for 5 years, I had even just become certified as a teacher several months before this happened. So not doing it for most of 2016 was hard. I could not keep my balance and would still get dizzy certain ways I would move my head so zumba was out until I felt like I could NOT do it without falling over.
But I started traveling with Destination Nursery after 5 months.
I had to do things much slower but the important thing is I was doing them.
At the start of 2017 I started back to zumba…it was a struggle for the first month, I still remembered much of it, but had forgot a lot, eventually the dizziness went away and I have been back now 1 year ZUMBA strong…I love ZUMBA because it is fun + it makes me feel ALIVE!!!
Lots of blessings and lots of miracles…too many for me to recount here, just know that I am thankful to be here and to be involved in sharing my passion for interiors, and design with you as well as simply living and loving my people!!
Thank you for your SUPPORT xxo it means the world!! #thisisme