The Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) loves personal stories.
In fact, so much so, that we have developed an ongoing blog series called “Our BEST Stories;” these stories highlight the people of BEST and their personal journeys going forward from brain injury.
Because it’s Brain Injury Awareness Month, we have an extra special story. BEST team member, Tawnya Padilla, sat down with us and talked about her journey. Padilla gave an open, honest and raw portrayal that touches the heart, soul and mind.
We decided to break up this story into three parts that will post over three consecutive days, beginning today.
Here is part one of series.
Emergence and the Journey Forward
Tawnya Padilla is making a difference in many profound and beautiful ways.
Padilla is the Board President for the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) and a leader and advocate in the brain injury community. She is a loving and caring friend and supporter of fellow BEST team members and their families. She is a devoted and loving wife and mother. Padilla owns and operates two local businesses and adores and cares for her business clients like family. She is a good friend to many, including being an understanding friend to herself, too.
And while she has always had a lifelong passion about making a difference in the lives of others, whether it is through her many life roles or with her warm and kind personality, that passion has become even deeper.
For the last seven years, Padilla has moved forward from a brain injury she received in an accident in 2008. It hasn’t always been easy; she’s had to really challenge herself and some days are tougher than others.
Yet, she’s determined to live her BEST life possible, with her “BESTies,” friends and family by her side, and she by theirs.
Padilla began this journey six years ago. After Padilla’s accident, she began going to the Tacoma TBI Support Group in 2009. It was there that she met BEST Founder, Chief Visionary Officer and support group facilitator, Penny Condoll. Padilla credits Condoll as being instrumental in her recovery and her achievements; that first meeting really stays with her.
“When I first met Penny, I felt instant acceptance,” says Padilla. “She was so easy to talk to. She is very understanding and gentle. She supports me and others as we continually grow and recover. We are accepted for who we really are. She brings out the ‘BEST’ in each one of us and helps us to see ourselves in a way that we shine.
Having a TBI, our perception is skewed. Penny helps remind me of traits I forget or cannot see at the moment that are good about myself. I like how she reminds me of these qualities that are golden for me, as I cannot see them without being prompted and reminded. I have a hard time accepting compliments. She really encourages me to be mindful and accept compliments, help and support.”
It was in this spirit that made up the beginnings of the foundation of recovery and achievement for Padilla. That same year, she attended her first Washington State TBI conference, which was another platform to launch a new life, new dreams and a new spirit to move forward.
In 2010, she began a vocational rehabilitation program. It was a big, and sometimes really scary, step. She was still getting to know “who” she was after her brain injury and the path forward was a bumpy one, as Padilla who had to cope with anxiety and stress while being placed in a job opportunity that was not a good fit.
So, in 2012, she took what she’s refers to as a “leap of courage.” She decided to open her own business with the help of the Washington State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and she decided to apply to be on the board of directors at BEST. It was a big leap indeed; but she was gaining more confidence and was bolstered and cheered on by her BESTies all along the way.
Fast forward to 2015. Today, Padilla is now in her third year of serving on the BEST board and she has not one, but two growing and well-received local businesses, T-Town Body Treatments and Emergent Distributing, an online company that has an extensive line of organic, all-natural, eco-friendly, sustainable products. Padilla has instructed classes on beauty and wellness to the general public. She is an also blogger and writer for her own personal blog and for her businesses.
Padilla has had additional public speaking engagements, one of the most notable ones was sharing her personal and entrepreneurial journey at the 2013 Washington State TBI conference.
That speech was really transformative.
“I was honored to speak at the conference about my five year journey. I was inspired to inspire others and send a positive message that anything can be attainable if you think it. I am so happy to share the rehab, support, and love that it took to get well. I am so happy to be someone that makes people smile and happy to see me.”
BEST was amongst Padilla’s most ardent supporters and biggest fans through it all. It’s something that she cherishes.
“I value BEST because of its richness it has in our TBI community. All these years, I have been supported by BEST in the way that no one or organization has done,” explains Padilla.
“Being a part of BEST has been a privilege. I am so proud to be a part of something big. To see my BESTies have joy, happiness, meaningful lives, success and activities to look forward to, melt my heart.
My Dad asked me what I do. I couldn’t answer him so I invited him to ‘see’ for himself. He did. He was amazed, touched and wanted more. He is coming to the 2015 TBI conference because he loves the BESTies, too! He feels at home around them as I do. He enjoys their intelligent conversations, as I do.
I love being the BEST Board President and helping Penny’s vision become a reality. I love being a part of BEST and helping make a difference in people’s lives. We are a team and we all have a talent to give. BEST is special as it nurtures each of us individually with our individual needs, wants, and desires. All of the volunteers have such unique gifts.