Coffee Talk [August 2017]

Woman sitting at desk with text overlay "Coffee Talk August 2017"

Hi friends! I’m so excited to connect with you today because I’ve been a little off the grid. I haven’t mentioned it much here, but I actually had brain surgery back in July. I had what’s called a chiari malformation in my brain (I’ll explain more below) and had to have surgery to correct it. As far as brain surgery goes, it’s really no big deal.

I feel really grateful (I know, that sounds strange) to have something that’s fixable. As my neurosurgeon put it, “it’s like carpentry. Or plumbing. Maybe a little of both.”

So in case you’re new to the blog or my site, each month I share a ‘coffee talk’ post with you. It’s my way of catching up with you and sharing what’s going on behind the scenes. I’d love to be able to meet each and every one of you for coffee in real life, but plane tickets are a little crazy these days. So these Coffee Talk posts are the next best thing <3

In case you want to catch up on previous posts, you can reach my June Coffee Talk and July Coffee Talk, too. Considering that I had brain surgery last month, this post is mostly going to focus on that. There are even some business lessons I’ve taken away from the experience I hope will help you, too. I’m also sharing some info on The Elite Retreat, a 2-day business retreat for women being held in Princeton, NJ in October! I’m speaking on Day 2, but attending the entire retreat because I’m so excited about the content.

So let’s grab a cool mug (if you follow me on Instagram, you know I have a pretty serious mug collection going on), your drink of choice, and catch up through some coffee talk…

Coffee Talk – August 2017

1 // The Whole Brain Surgery Thing

Long story short, I had crazy right-side neck/shoulder/arm pain for the better part of a year, which then progressed into intense, insane 24/7 headaches and neurological issues. I’d known I had a chiari malformation in my brain for the last few months because doctors caught it on a cervical MRI. But no one made the connection between the pain I experienced + the chiari until I visited my neurosurgeon/miracle worker at U Penn in Philly.

Here’s a technical explanation of what a chiari malformation is from the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center:

“A Chiari malformation is a structural abnormality at the back of the brain and skull. Normally, a large hole in the base of the skull accommodates the connection between the brain and spinal cord. This connection point is surrounded by fluid that can move freely between the head and spine. In someone with a Chiari malformation, the back of the brain (the cerebellum), is pushed down through this opening, creating pressure on the spinal cord and restricting that fluid movement between the head and spine. That pressure leads to a wide variety of symptoms, the most common being headache and neck pain, which typically gets worse with exertion (exercise, coughing, sneezing, and even laughing). Another frequent complaint is temporary tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers.”

Don’t worry, this is something you’re born with. It’s not something you develop later in life. It apparently affects women more often than men. And, for reasons unknown to even one of the best neurosurgeons in the world (my surgeon, Dr. O’Rourke at Penn & others), the symptoms/crazy-insane flare up I experienced happens to women in their 20’s. I’m 29, so my flare up decided to really squeeze itself in at the last moment lol.

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I scheduled my surgery pretty quickly after meeting with Dr. O’Rourke for several reasons…

  1. For business reasons (I love this business so much that it was actually one of the first priorities I had in scheduling), I thought August was a good time to rest up.
  2. I was in a TON of pain and couldn’t wait any longer.
  3. Pain is a learned response in the body (which I’m trying to learn more about now, because this fascinates me), and I’d been in serious pain for the better part of a year. It wasn’t smart to wait much longer, for many reasons.
  4. So I’d have plenty of time to rest up for a huge international trip Ryan & I have had planned and booked for a long time.

So I had the surgery in July, spent time in the hospital recovering, and then came home to recover some more. I don’t remember much (if any) of my time spent in the hospital or being at home for awhile. But this was my ridiculous view of my home city, the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, I had from my room at UPenn:

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{the gorgeous view from my hospital room in the neuro unit}

What I do remember, though, is how insanely kind my friends, family, and colleagues were/continue to be.

Between the visits, gifts, meals, cards, books, DVDs, texts, calls, FB messages, Instagram messages, and a million other things, I was completely overwhelmed with kindness and caring. For someone like me who’s usually pretty active, social, and on-the-go, it can be really hard to s-l-o-w-d-o-w-n to a turtle-like pace. But having so many people there to chat, eat, and text with has been so helpful.

For the last several weeks, I’ve spent my time like this….

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I also wanted to share something with you guys because I just find it incredibly kind. Before I had the surgery, I was a nervous wreck. The full-on demo they did at the neurosurgeon’s office of how they’d remove a portion of my skull, cut into my dura surrounding my brain, and remove my C1 vertebrae probably didn’t help.

I knew I was in the BEST hands. My neurosurgeon is a ninja miracle-worker. If it’s any indication, he told me not to talk to anyone else who had this surgery before and not to Google anything to read about peoples’ experiences because “they didn’t have the surgery with him”.

He’s confident. And he has every reason to be.

But I’m a nervous nelly. That’s just the way I am. So I wrote a straight-to-the-point (but somewhat begging) email to the top neurosurgeon at Columbia/NY Presbyterian who’s also extremely well-known and well-respected for performing this exact surgery.

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I was totally upfront with him about how I’d already scheduled the surgery with another neurosurgeon. And about the fact that, since I live outside Philly, having this surgery in NYC wasn’t really the best option for me and my family.

Almost instantly, he responded and told me to overnight him all of my MRI images and any other documents I had that he could review. Within 1 day, I was on the phone with him talking about my case. Not only was he kind, helpful, and extremely knowledgeable, but I never felt rushed to get my questions in or to let him off the phone.

He didn’t owe me a thing. But, for whatever reason, he took the time to reassure me (for free). He totally knew that’s what I was looking for from him: reassurance. He knew my neurosurgeon, he knew I was in great hands, and he knew he had nothing to ‘gain’ by talking to me.

But he did it anyway. I still can’t get over this act of kindness.

Some business lessons we can all take away…

This is a great lesson for all of us business owners/entrepreneurs to remember. Yes, we need money to pay for our businesses and everything in our lives. But sometimes, just taking a few minutes or hours of our time can make all the difference to someone in need. Someone who maybe just needs a little reassurance, confidence, or “you’re doing the right thing” pat on the back.

Taking a break in your business, or having to slow down a little, won’t kill your business in the long run.

Your clients are more understanding than you might think. You’re human – it’s OK to have to let them know you have something serious going on.

Having smart systems in place, though, can help your business run on auto if you need a break, have a medical issue, or take a vacation.

2 // Join Me at The Elite Retreat – a 2-day business retreat for women entrepreneurs

There came a time about 9 months ago that I looked up from my MacBook, put down one of the 3 drinks I had on my desk, and realized that (while well intentioned) I had kind of forgotten to include “human interaction” in my list of to-dos of building my business.

Sometimes we forget that we still need to get out a meet other women entrepreneurs, make real life personal connections, and network when we’re building an online business.

As online entrepreneurs, it’s imperative that we get out from behind our MacBooks and connect with other highly driven women. To put ourselves in the environment of high energy, quality upleveling content, and success driven women.

When is the last time you gave yourself 2 days to immerse in yourself and your business?

I want to cordially invite you to a transformational opportunity to do just that.

Join me and other amazing like-minded high achievers for a 2-day business retreat for women – The Elite Retreat: A Special Event for Ambitious Women Who are Ready to Transform their Mindsets, Their Businesses, and Their Lives. It’s being run by a business coach I truly admire, Maryalice Goldsmith.

If you’re ready to learn from a seasoned pro on how to:

  • Break through your mindset blocks around money, time, and self-worth and open yourself up to receive in REALLY BIG WAYS!
  • Masterfully perfect your branding, messaging, and strategically position yourself in your market in order to attract your ideal client and double or triple your revenue by the end of 2017.
  • Discover when and how to build a dream team so you can do more of the work you love, make more money doing it, and pass off all those pesky tasks that are weighing you down.
  • Clearly and effectively create a strategic 90-day plan customized to your business and finish 2017 powerfully.

Plus, I’m speaking on Day 2! So we get to hang out : ) And you’ll get the bonus of getting all of my best legal tips for women entrepreneurs in the online space.

Maryalice designed this retreat for the entrepreneur who’s 100% committed to change and growth in her business. This isn’t for everyone… it’s only for THE ELITE!

The entrepreneur who isn’t messing around. (That’s you! That’s what you’re here…)

I’d love for you to join me on October 5th & 6th in downtown Princeton, NJ at the historic Nassau Inn. I’m speaking on Day 2 (Oct 6!) on the top legal tips you need to effectively run your business. If you haven’t been to Princeton, I can tell you it’s well worth the trip. It’s one of the most (if not THE most) beautiful colleges I’ve ever been to, and fall in Princeton… you have no idea. Perfection.

To learn more and grab your spot click here.

Any questions? Just ask me! Or email me at [email protected]. I’m happy to chat with you about why I’m attending the ENTIRE retreat, what I’m talking about on Day 2, and the exclusive bonuses I’m offering at the retreat.

I hope you’re there so we can grab coffee, walk the gorgeous Princeton campus, and hopefully grab a meal together! <3

So tell me, what’s going on in your business? How’s your August going? Have you ever been to a business retreat before? 

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  1. So glad you had this done – that your experiences with health care and, in particular, with your neurosurgeon, went well, and that the outcome of the surgery has been so positive. We left Philly this spring after just a short time there, but I know UPenn and the area, and I’m just happy to know that you are doing okay. And, the NYC-based surgeon really did go above and beyond – which contradicts (in a good way!) the common perception of surgeons as disconnected and inhuman. 🙂 Take care, keep resting, and I hope you continue to feel better!

    1. Thank you so much, Anne! I really appreciate the kind words. I’m so grateful for the second opinion & the fact that, like you said, there are still kind surgeons out there ; ) Thank you again! Hope you’re having a great week! xo

  2. I have to admit that I don’t think Brain Surgery is an easy thing at all. You had every right to feel the way you did. In my case, I woke with my left side temporarily paralyzed. I too don’t remember all of it but there are parts of it that I’ll never forget. It also took me a few years before I was thinking properly but I very slowly saw progress. The brain is SERIOUSLY amazing. I’m so glad that you made it through and it was such an easier experience for you. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy let alone someone who is kind and helpful to others. It could have been much worse for you and I know it could have been much worse for me. That fact is truly traumatizing! As a business owner I struggle now with NOT sharing my story because people just don’t seem to take me seriously if I do. I think people tend to fear what they don’t understand. Maybe it was due to my location, I do not know but my doctors didn’t seem to talk to me as much. You are so right though! Sometimes, talking to another is all they really need. Emotional support is so important. You’re amazing! I TRULY wish that everyone were as understanding of that fact. Thank you for sharing your story and for being so brave.

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