What if you took your lifetime dream and made it happen with a lot of work and a lot of dedication, saw your dream grow and expand, and then had your dream turn into a nightmare because of your own health?
I recently met a woman named Tina Deszi. Tina adds new meaning to a Type A personality. She’s high energy, incredibly sincere and incredibly devoted to her own women’s group, Power of Women Exchange, which she co-founded.
But Tina, like all of us, has a back story that makes me realize just how much we can give each other, maybe even more now that we’re of a certain age.
Tina will be 47 this July and her story lends itself to all of us as a shining example of how we have wisdom now to know what’s best for us and wisdom to make changes as we need to and when we need to.
Tina’s first business was in partnership with her mom providing homecare services to older women and men.
Then, as the co-founder of POWE, Tina has built her group up to several successful chapters and now, at the height of her networking career, she’s resigning and going back to her original business with her mom. “Health care has been my life. You’re either born with it or not. It’s not pretty or glamorous; it’s messy, but it’s instilled in you.”
When Tina and a colleague founded POWE, she started neglecting her homecare company. And she didn’t like that to happen. “T & E (her homecare business) is about Boomers. My mom and partner is a beginning boomer and I’m at the very end of the boomers, so we have a good knowledge of that sandwich group. “We’re getting older but we’re not always living better, so we have to have help to live better and healthier. That’s what we do at T & E.”
To that end, Tina is now establishing a centre for older men and women to provide them with wonderful choices as they grow older, as they age. “People need the extra help that we will provide over standard services provided by the government.”
While Tina was busy growing this new arm of her business with her mom, a close friend of hers found out she had breast cancer. I had a “going off to chemo party for her, complete with t-shirts, and she made us all promise to get a mammogram. I had mine done and they found a lump. I cried for my girlfriend every day because she had 2 little kids and so I kept my own cancer on hold.”
“I started writing a blog as therapy and within 6 weeks, I had 5,000 people reading my blog! That made me realize just how much high impact stress I was dealing with. My doctor said I had to make changes in my life: lose some weight, give up caffeine and all preservatives and drink no more than 2 glasses of wine a week!”
“As I wrote about my stress levels, I also made a list of my stressors and they were all from POWE. When I journaled this, I could no longer deny my cancer.” So Tina decided to step down from her leadership role at POWE, her baby.
“Our Board of Directors said I was retiring, rather than stepping down and that phrase gave me the courage to go the next stage of my life. I now have full confidence in my decision to concentrate on our elder services atT & E and on my family and my life is full now too.”
“Individually we can change little, but as a group, mostly by leading by example, we can let people know that they can have a full life if they chose to. My choice has given me quietness with no chatter from my head. I can listen to my heart instead.”
“That’s why I created Full Life Integrated Health Care Centre. It’s a dream that I’ve had for years and when I realized it was still at the back of my mind, I knew it was my dream coming true. We’ll have fully integrated health care including wheelchairs, diapering, feeding and it will include offering the same services to young people with disabilities too. Clients will pay a low monthly fee and that will include both medical and social services. It’s not a nursing home, not a live-in concept; people come for the day’s programs and then go back home.”
“We’ll also have short term emergency housing for victims of elder-abuse. And it will all be dependent on fundraising. I see aging as ‘Once an adult, twice a child. We need help when we’re little and then again when we age.”
“There’s nothing like this in all of Canada because it includes partnering with insurance companies to include this service for their clients.”
“I want people to stand beside me, embrace me in his effort and see the bigger picture and lobby for change in this direction. In 10 years, I want to see this country wide and into the U.S. too. I hope that everyone is aware and understands that it’s building a community and caring for our aging population to continue to live a full life.”
“If I don’t celebrate who I am now, I never will.”
Congratulations Tina for setting such a great example for women of a certain age!
©Marcia Barhydt, 2011