Life Lessons from Difficult Times: Jenny’s Story

Everybody has a story to tell.  Everyone has had life experiences that will make us laugh, cry, and, most importantly, learn.   When someone tells us their story, it is important for us to listen, and to see the lessons that it brings.

I was very honored when Jenny Creno, one of my readers, honored me with her story, and gave me permission to share it, along with the lessons she has learned from it.

photoJenny was living a comfortable, “normal” life, attending college and studying journalism.  But then the day came, when Jenny had to adjust to a new normal.

In Jenny’s case, the new normal was that her dad had been in a car accident and now needed to use a wheelchair.  After only three semesters of college, Jenny returned home to be with her family and help out where she could.  For two years, life was a blur as her dad tried various therapies, trying to regain his ability to walk.

Finally, Jenny’s family accepted that her dad would never walk again.  According to Jenny, “It became normal, and normal is good.”

Life settled into a routine, and it was time for Jenny to return to school.  Supporting her decision, Jenny’s parents paid for her to return, and even paid for her to live in an apartment, rather than a dorm, which would have been uncomfortable for her, returning at an older age than the students who generally live in dorms.  Jenny states that, “[My parents] were my rocks.  I couldn’t be more grateful for all they did to make my collegiate opportunity possible.”

Life continued this way, for a year and a half.  Then, right before Christmas 2011, Jenny’s dad was admitted to the hospital, with health complications.  Jenny spent her entire Christmas break at his side.  Jenny said, “I couldn’t even imagine leaving his side, though he made me from time to time.”

Jenny returned to school, coming home every weekend to be with her dad.  He was released from the hospital, and they both looked forward to these visits, as he continued to recover.

Then, in March, Jenny’s dad was admitted to the hospital once again.  She was less worried this time, as “he was in great hands and he was himself; my big teddy bear of a daddy who used to take his dentures out and talk to me with them in his hands, such a nut he was.”  So, Jenny felt comfortable returning to school.

A week later, Jenny was faced with another new normal.  Her father unexpectedly passed away.

Losing a parent is never an easy experience, and for a young adult, it is even more difficult.  According to Jenny, “Everything happened at once and I barely remember any of it to this day. All I know is I got on the next plane from school to home and I was with my family going through the motions of a wake, a funeral, and saying goodbye to the greatest man I ever knew, my daddy. Life has a funny way of slapping you in the face when you least expect it.”

You never “get over” losing a parent, but you do get back to life, and adjust to this new normal.  After a month, Jenny returned to school.  The death had changed her family’s financial situation, however, and Jenny now had to foot the bill.  Jenny states that, “at that point I needed to get it together because I now had a car payment, rent, a phone bill, tuition, a car to fill with gas, a grocery list to buy; all on my own.”  Life had forced Jenny to grow up, overnight.

Jenny had poor credit from some mistakes that she had made when she was younger, so getting the financial assistance she needed was difficult.  According to Jenny, “I virtually had to convince someone to give me money on the honesty policy, which we all know isn’t the easiest thing to do.”  She managed to get a low-limit credit card, and increased her limit by paying off every month.  With the help of her school’s financial aid department, her mother, and a financial advisor, Jenny was able to use her credit to help her get through school.

This was definitely a difficult time in Jenny’s life, and she wasn’t sure that she could cope.  However, Jenny persevered, and emerged better and stronger, learning a number of valuable lessons along the way.

Jenny came out of her experiences stronger and wiser.  She submitted her story as a guest post on this blog, and was later offered a position with the company.  According to Jenny, “It’s pretty crazy how just simply reaching out with your story and credentials can give you the right lead into something.”

As a very old-for-her-age 20-something, Jenny feels very compelled to share the learning from her experiences, so that she may help others.

These are the lessons that Jenny most wants to share:

1.  Never give up.  According to Jenny, “There certainly were times when I wanted to give up and almost did.”  Persistence pays off.

2.  Find support.  Jenny says, “Thankfully I learned how to lean on my family, my friends, my support system who helped me through that difficult time.”

3.  Be financially prepared for the unexpected.  According to Jenny, not being ready, financially, “is one thing that made it all so hard, the thought of it all coming down on me while I had nothing.”  Even young adults, who are just starting out, need to have a plan for supporting themselves in an emergency.

In addition to the above lessons, here are some emergency financial tips from Jenny:

  • Look everywhere you can for scholarships and financial aid, if you are a student.
  • A credit card, used responsibly, can also be helpful.
  • Find whatever employment you can, to make ends meet, even if it isn’t what you want to be doing in the long run.
  • And don’t be afraid to clip coupons!

Thank you, Jenny, for allowing me to share your story.  Feel free to direct your comments to either Jenny or me, as we will both be responding to them. Also, please pay a visit to Jenny’s blog.

23 thoughts on “Life Lessons from Difficult Times: Jenny’s Story

  1. What an inspiring story, Jenny! Thank you for sharing this, Bethany. We always here, Don’t use credit cards! They are the devil! It’s great to hear how credit cards can be used to improve your life. We did use them to help get us through a rough spot when I was getting my grad degree, but I do think that we should have really evaluated whether some of those purchases were “needs” or “wants.” After three big credit card balances in my life, I am adamant about paying off my balance every month.

    Jenny’s ability to provide for herself and her willingness to work hard and do whatever it takes shows that credit cards, when used responsibly, can be helpful. What a story and inspiration!

    • Tammy,

      Thank you! You are so right that we always hear how evil credit card companies can be, but with the right research & financial planning they truly can be helpful. They managed to be part of my saving Grace through that difficult time. Thank you for taking the time to read my story & respond!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Jenny. You’re so right about credit cards – used properly they can even save money. I clicked on the links and must say I’m curious about convergence journalism. I don’t think it existed when I got my journalism degree a million years ago (really 1989).

    • Christy,

      I never thought that I would be turning to any form of “financial loan” as an answer, especially a credit card, but it proved to me that they can be our friends (those little pieces of plastic that is). Convergence is still catching on considering that social media is becoming the new trend with news outlets, but I figured now couldn’t be a better time to get experience in that field & it surely has paid off for me! Thank you for reading & responding!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us – it takes tremendous courage to face a situation like that with grace and persistence. Things change in an instant, so it’s important to recognize and cherish what we have today – nothing lasts forever. So glad to hear that you are on the right track now and helping others find their way too. Best of luck!

    • Katy,

      I read this quote after my father had passed & I truly wish that I would have came across it before, but I am so glad that I can share it now…

      “Learn to appreciate what you have before time forces you to appreciate what you had.”

      That seems to hit home with so many people on multiple levels, but like you said nothing lasts forever so we need to cherish what we have today.

      Thank you for reading!

  4. Yes, thanks for sharing this story with all of us Bethany, and congratulations for turning your life around in such a positive way Jenny. I think most of us ended up making a mistake or wrong choice somewhere along the way so it’s always nice to be reminded that no matter what your age, with persistence and a clear intention you can just about always turn it around. Your advice about credit and financial awareness applies to us all…good for you for learning it so young! ~Kathy

    • Thank you so much Kathy! I truly couldn’t be more thankful for learning this lesson somewhat gracefully at this age & Bethany said it right, I couldn’t have done it without my support system.

      Thank you so much for reading!

  5. Bethany, what a great story, I’m glad Jenny agreed to let you share it. Jenny, I am so inspired by what you have done. So many would have simply given up and settled for less. You are a real inspiration.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. My dad had cancer when I was in college, and it is so scarey when things happen to parents. When you are young you feel like they should be infallible sometimes. I am really glad you are finding your “new normal” and doing well. Good. Luck on your life journies.


  7. Jenny’s story reminded me of my own struggles as a child who had to grow up suddenly due to an untimely demise of my father and with meagre financial assistance, how my mother raised three children all alone, giving us the best of education and inspiring us to be strong. Many of us have to bear untold suffering in life but the real success lies in emerging triumphant….all the best Jenny! hope you are doing well. Life treats us as well if we choose the thorny path with courage!

    • Balroop,

      It’s amazing what mother’s are capable of, right? I couldn’t imagine how hard it was for my mother to see me go through something so traumatic & not be able to stop the pain that our family was going through at that time. I know all she ever wanted was to protect us & keep us from anything that could potentially hurt us, but life has it’s way of getting in the middle no matter what. It truly was her who was so inspiring to me that really helped me to keep pushing on. Thank you so much for reading & responding.

  8. As some here know, my mom passed away when I was younger-just before my 16th birthday. It’s been almost 20 years, and it isn’t something you get over. Like Jenny, and many more of us, have learned, you move into a new normal. (Of course, life likes to shake things up, and test our limits.)

    Jenny, you did amazingly well. You had an amazing support system, drive, a sense of humor, and a good head on your shoulders. With that in your life, I imagine that you will be doing some pretty awesome things and your normal will be one that others dream of having.

    • Jamie,

      I am so sorry to hear about your mother. You are right, it is not something that is easily overcame but I am glad to be able to share my story with others to inspire them that sometimes falling on your face is the best thing that can happen to you. It made me realize that I needed to keep plugging along in order to give myself & my family a great life someday just like my parents have done for me. I can’t thank you enough for your very kind comment & for reading my story through Bethany’s voice. Thank you again!

  9. Jenny- I have said this many times to myself: That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Kudos to you for being a pillar of strength for your dad and your family. How proud he must have been of you!

    I would encourage you, as you continue your personal journey, to continue to think positively. Also, please check out Mr. money Mustache for some very safe financial advice.

    Blessings to you!

  10. Thank you Bethany for sharing this story on your blog and thank you Jenny for the lessons within your story.

    For way too long I lived on the edge of financial ruin, and now I’m prepared for whatever the world throws at me. Being prepared is so important!

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