Hi, I'm Else Kosberg, also known to some people as The Female Life Designer.
This website is for any mature woman who needs help, inspiration and motivation to find the perfect life-style for YOU, but it's especially for you if you're a woman who suffers from an invisible illness after a brain injury, more specifically PCS (Post Concussion Syndrome).
Maybe you struggle with working full time in an ordinary job, but you feel you have no options. You have to work, because you don't get any other financial support, since the authorities seem to take neither you nor your illness seriously.
You need to find a way to make a living working from home, but you don't know how to make that happen.
You're exhausted. You need to finally get a break from all the stress and start living your life un-apologetically on your own terms.
But you need to find someone who understands what you're going through, and who can give you some good advice on how to make that happen.
You're tired of not being taken seriously by other people, even the ones closest to you, like family, friends, your spouse or partner, - and by employers... heck, even doctors! - who can't see your invisible illness and therefore don't quite believe you when you try to tell them about your challenges. You feel that they mistrust you and think you're just lazy and trying to find excuses not to work. And it makes you angry, sad and frustrated.
I know how you feel. I've spent 18 years struggling with Post Concussion Syndrome and the feeling that I'm not being taken seriously, and I've been searching high and low to find out how I can get the freedom I need, how I can make a great livelihood for myself working from home, at my own pace, and finally be able to live as normal as possible despite my brain injury and physical challenges.
It's been a long and winding road, but even though there are still many things I wish were different in my life, I'm finally getting closer and closer to living my life in accordance with who I am and what I really want, and be able to support myself and at the same time manage to improve my health.
I'm on a wonderful journey which might never really end, but that's fine. Reaching goals often means setting new ones, and that's what makes life so exciting, isn't it? And I'm happy to say that I have reached some of my goals.
But I totally understand that you're not there yet. You're probably struggling to keep your head above water, physically, mentally and financially, so reaching any of your goals might seem rather impossible for you right now.
I get it. I've been there! And it's not that long ago, either. So if I can change my life for the better, so can you.
As I move forward on my path, I believe my experiences can be of value to you in your search for what might be the ideal life for you. That's why I want to share my experiences with you, through this blog and through my YouTube channel: The Female Life Designer Channel.
So let me just tell you my story.
After having spent most of my adult life trying to live according to what I felt other people expected of me, and not being true to who I really am, I reached a point where I just couldn't live like that anymore, and I started to gradually make some necessary changes. One change was the decision to quit my corporate job to start working from home while my kids were small. I wanted to be the one to watch them take their first steps, to follow them through every stage of their development. I was married at that time, and my husband earned a decent income, so he agreed to let me try it out. I started a writing agency and combined it with a few other services like copying and book-binding, and I did well enough to be able to work from home for the next 7 years, until both my kids started school. After that, I sort of no longer had any "excuse" to work from home (as if I needed one!) - so I applied for a one-year vacancy at the municipality office, and got it.
What happened next was that, just before I was going to start that job, I had an accident. I hit my head very hard against a bookshelf in my son's room one day, and I had a constant headache for 2 days. I didn't call any doctor, though, because I didn't want to bother anyone or "complain" (guess I'm a typical woman!) and I thought it would pass. So I started that job, despite the headache, because I thought if I started off with a sick-leave, I'd lose the job right away, so I tried to hang in there as best I could. Only the pain didn't pass. Well, it got better, but I was dizzy and also had other strange symptoms, like feeling completely exhausted just by walking up one flight of stairs, and I had migraine with "aura" almost every day, - so after a couple of days I finally went to see a doctor. He examined me but couldn't find anything wrong. He did, however, say that I should probably take it easy for a few days and asked me if I needed a sick note. I was reluctant at first and said "no, thank you", - but it didn't take long before I had to go back to the doctor and ask him to write that sick note anyways, and so I was on sick-leave for 2 weeks.
And that was just the beginning.
Let me just cut a long story short and say that I was in and out of that doctor's office more times than I care to remember, and I felt more and more like I was regarded a hypochondriac each time I went there, because the doctor couldn't find any physical evidence of my illness. I felt more and more that he didn't quite believe that there was anything wrong with me at all, even though I'd told him about what happened when I hit my head and I'd described my symptoms and told him over and over again that they had to be connected to my injury, because it all started then and I'd never had any such symptoms in all my life before that.
It wasn't until months later that I finally got diagnosed. My GP had sent me to the local hospital to have some tests done over a couple of days, which meant that I had to be admitted, and during that hospital stay, after having been interviewed by the doctors and told them my story, one of the doctors came to me one day and gave me a Medical Journal with an article that he wanted me to read. "See if this describes what you're going through..." he said, as he handed it over to me.
The article turned out to be about something I'd never heard about before: Post Concussion Syndrome, but which I immediately recognized. (I won't explain in detail here, but you can read all about PCS here). When I read the article, everything fell into place. It was as if the article was written about me personally. And the doctor told me that he'd had a similar experience as mine when he was younger. He'd fallen into a river and hit his head on a rock, and he got a severe concussion and suffered from it for many years afterwards. Post Concussion Syndrome really means "long-time effect from a severe concussion", and there was really no doubt: That was exactly what I was going through.
It was such a relief to finally meet someone who understood what I was struggling with, and who could give me some answers! I asked the doctor if this was something I would have to struggle with for the rest of my life, or if there was anything at all I could do to heal myself. He said there was a chance that I could get well eventually, but that I most likely would have the symptoms for many years to come. He advised me to read more about it on the Internet when I got home from the hospital, and said that I should try to avoid all kinds of stress, mental and physical, and that I would probably need to rest a lot. If I managed to do that, he had good hopes for me, but couldn't make any promises.
It turned out that I was in the category of people who were most likely to suffer from PCS for a long time. I'm a woman, I was in my 40s when I got the injury, and I'd had several head injuries and concussions as a child. For your information, I had at least 3 incidences of concussion in my childhood, - on one occasion I had to stay home from school for a whole week. I also had what they call "petit mal" epilepsy for a few years in my childhood, where I had "black-outs" and didn't know what was going on around me. Luckily, I "grew out of" that, but all these things probably made me especially vulnerable to PCS, and is probably part of the reason why I still have it.
There's no medical cure for PCS, as you can see if you read more about it (here), and no particular physical treatment. But there are things you can do to try and keep it from getting worse, and I've tried to follow the advise I got from the doctor who diagnosed me. Basically, I've had to try to avoid stress (which has been difficult, since I've had to work, and life has presented a lot of challenges along the way...). One of the symptoms of PCS is fatigue, so there's been a lot of things I always enjoyed doing before, that I just stopped doing for many years. Dizziness and migraine with "aura" (sight-disturbances) also made me sort of afraid of even going for a walk alone, - something I used to enjoy earlier.
Less physical activity, combined with a lot of stress, resulted in me putting on almost 20 kilos of weight. For a person who's been lean and strong and never heavier than 60 kilos all my life up until that point, putting on that much weight and losing my slim figure was really depressing. I felt less attractive, and the fact that I felt constantly tired and didn't have the energy to do things together with my kids the way I used to, also made me feel like a "bad Mom". The effect PCS had on my relationship with my husband, is also part of the picture. I didn't have the energy I used to have before, neither to be physical intimate nor to go hiking in the mountains with him and that was bad enough, but I even struggled with doing household chores like cleaning floors, because I got so exhausted, so my husband had to do more of these things now. But the most frustrating thing was the feeling of not being taken seriously with my illness and the actual challenges I had because of it. As time went by, I felt that both my husband and other people didn't quite believe that PCS was real, and that I was just making excuses to avoid working or doing things I didn't want to do. It made me really sad and frustrated.
It came to a point where I just couldn't live like that anymore. I wanted my life back! And I understood more and more that I had to stop putting everybody else first and start living more in alignment with who I am and what I need. I had to start looking after me for a change.
So after years of struggling my lonely battle with PCS, - after being on sick-leave long-term, then going through a rehabilitation period where I managed to get some financial support to educate myself as an interior decorator, then going through a work-practice period, then starting my own creative business which I kept going for 2 years while at the same time working as a substitute teacher.... (!) (you may breathe now!) - yes, I did all of this despite the fact that I knew that I had PCS and really shouldn't be having all that stress in my life. But I was the only one who really understood that, and I felt that nobody believed me. So I kept quiet and kept going. But after some years, I realized that I had to make some big changes in my life. I just couldn't keep going the way I did. I was exhausted, physically and mentally. My marriage wasn't working well. I felt that - apart from the constant love and support from my wonderful kids - I was completely alone with my struggles, and had no support. So what should I do?
To cut a long story short: After some time where I really tried to make the best out of the situation and I made a serious effort to think positive thoughts and try to make everything work (my health, my work situation, my marriage...), I realized I couldn't keep it up. So I made some tough decisions and sort of started my life from scratch again. Without going into any details right here, let me just say that I did what was necessary for me at that point, and part of that was divorcing my husband and moving to a new town.
I struggled for quite a few years financially, with only part-time jobs or vacancies available and also a long period of unemployment, - but I found ways to cope and never gave up on my dreams of a better life for myself. I worked for several years as a coach for unemployed people, and then, 4 years ago, I got a job as a social worker for refugees, which was a permanent job. I was happy to get that job after quite a few years of only part-time jobs available, because I needed it to get a more balanced economy after the divorce, -but I've always known that being someone's employee was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to be my own boss, and I did everything in my power to make that happen. Why? Because I was struggling with my health, and I knew that having to rely on an employer or maybe even social security to keep my head above water, was not something I could live with much longer. It would only make my PCS worse. I just had to find a better way to support myself.
Earlier in my life I've had my own business two times over, so I've already had a taste of what it's like to be my own boss, and I love it! For several reasons, I decided to close down both my previous businesses, - the first one because I felt it was expected of me that I should go back to a "normal" job as soon as my kids started school and didn't need me to be at home all the time. The second business because I felt there were more expenses than profit with it. There was also way too much stress involved in both of them, since they were both what you may call "brick and mortar" businesses. So some of what I learned from those 2 experiences was that I never want to have a brick and mortar business ever again. At least not as my only source of income. I want a business where I will use mainly my own expertise, knowledge, creativity and personal experiences, and I want it to be a business that I can run online, from anywhere in the world.
So how could I do that? I knew right away that I wanted to inspire, motivate and empower other women to create the life they truly want for themselves. But for a long time I didn't really know how. Eventually I decided that the obvious solution was to build a coaching business, and since I'd been working as a coach for quite a few years already, only as someone else's employee, I decided that this was what I needed to do.
So I've spent several years trying to build a coaching business online, as a life-coach. But my heart hasn't been completely involved in it. I've felt that there's been some vital ingredient missing, and therefor it's never really come to anything. I've spent a lot of time (and money) educating myself - trying to learn all the things I've felt that I needed to learn in order to be successful online, - and it hasn't been wasted, I just ended up not using it for the kind of business I tried to build at the beginning.
It wasn't until I let go of all the "necessities" - all the "shoulds", all the "this is the wise thing to do if you want to succeed" kind of things, - that I found peace within myself. Yes, I have a lot of experience as a coach, and yes, I do want to help other women, - but there was always something about my original approach that didn't feel quite right, didn't feel like me. Being a life-coach in the normal sense of the word didn't feel right, and that's why all my efforts were nothing but half-hearted attempts to attract clients to my business. No wonder it never came to anything!
It wasn't until I understood that I have to be CREATIVE, - that I have to follow my heart and my passions and just do whatever it is that gives me JOY ... it wasn't until then that I found peace within myself about the whole thing.
And most of all, I've realized that I want to help other women who are struggling with PCS. Because no one should have to experience the humiliation of being treated without respect, and of being mistrusted and considered lazy for not being able to work or do other things because of their invisible injury.
So I decided that I just have to show up as me. I don't really want to call myself a coach or anything at all. And I certainly don't need a degree to my name in order to share my knowledge and expertise and my life experiences with you. So instead of "Else Kosberg, MD" or something like that, I might just as well call myself "Else Kosberg, ND" (as in "No Degree"). I do have an education as an Interior Decorator, and I've studied foreign languages (among other things), but more importantly: I have a "degree" in LIFE, and I have a "degree" in PCS.
I've lived a long life already (I'm 58 as I'm writing this), and I've been through a lot. I've already given you some examples of how my life's been after I got diagnosed with Post Concussion Syndrome, but there's more: I've been a creative child, a teenager, a student, I've had many different jobs, I've been married, I've raised kids, I've had my own business (twice), I've been through the grief of losing people I loved (like my best friend who was murdered, another dear friend who died in a car crash, parents and relatives who have died ...), I've been through a divorce, I've struggled with money, and I've struggled with health issues like PCS (Post Concussion Syndrome)... I could go on and on.
That was just me scratching the surface, but I'm sure you get an idea about what kind of experiences I've had in my life and why I can probably relate to some of what you might be going through or some of what you've experienced in your life. We're in this together, and I'll be more than happy to share my journey with you, good things and bad, - mind you: without focusing on the past too much, but using it as a way of learning how to handle the here and now and to start making things better for ourselves.
What I think is particularly important to remember is, that your past does not define you. Your brain injury does not define you. You're so much more than that! And you're here and now, and you need to find your way back to YOU. You need to make a new start and a better life for yourself. That's what I'd like to help you with.
One of the things I've recently decided to do, is to set up a fund for women who suffer from PCS, - women who find it hard to work full-time in an ordinary job, and who need some start-up help to create a business from home. You can read more details about it here. It will take some time to build up the fund (or not! - depending on how willing people are to donate to the cause) - but I will publish on this website and on Facebook when it will be open for applications. If you want to contribute, you can donate here.
As you look around this site, you'll find out more about all the things I'm involved in, and I hope it will inspire you to be all that YOU can be. I also hope that it will help you understand that you don't have to do just ONE thing in your life. You're allowed to have more than one passion. It doesn't have to be "either - or", - you can do ALL the things you love, perhaps even use some of it to create a thriving business, if that's what you want, - or you can simply make the most out of your daily life without feeling guilty about it. Yes, it can be wise to focus on one thing and be really good at THAT, but if you're anything like me, you're just not put together that way. You easily get bored if you have to stick with one thing, and because of your brain injury you might also find it hard to concentrate on one thing for a long period of time. You need variety, and you probably enjoy working on different projects and in different ways. And that's OK! There's absolutely nothing wrong with that! It's just the way you are, and you need to consider what works best with your health issues.
If I, - simply by being me, with all my flaws and facets, and sharing with you what I know, - can inspire and help YOU to live your life to the fullest (and also un-apologetically on your own terms), - then my mission is completed. That's what I want: For you and me both to live our lives to the fullest and in complete harmony with who we are. For both of us to create our perfect lifestyle. Despite our health issues and challenges.
I do believe that financial freedom is important in order for you to have complete freedom of choice in life, so on The Free To Live Blog I do sometimes write about money. But I'm equally focused on the inner power that I believe you have, - the power to create the life you truly want. That's why I also write and talk a lot about how you can help yourself grow mentally and spiritually and in that way improve so many areas of your life. I believe it's all about mindset and about learning how to make your thoughts work in your favor. (Changing my mindset was what helped me get rid of migraine almost completely, and in just a few days, after several years where I'd had migraine practically every single day. What a relief that was!)
But more that anything, what is really important to me, is that I want you to understand that you MUST be YOU. If you're living your life according to someone else's rules, or try to copy what someone else is doing, or try to please everybody else before taking care of YOU, - then you need to STOP that right now, because it's not good for you.
I know you probably find it hard sometimes to show your true self to other people, even to the people closest to you (family, friends, a partner...), - in fact: especially to the ones closest to you, - because there'll always be a certain expectancy from people around you that you need to "fit in".
Like I said earlier: I can relate!
I don't have all the answers, and I can't point my finger in one direction for you and say: That's what you need to do. Because you are you and I am me. We're not exactly the same. You need to find YOUR path, - not copy what I do.
But we're probably more alike than we're different, since you're still here, and if I can inspire you to start living more in alignment with who you are and what your health requires, I have succeeded in what I set out to do.
I've realized that I need to be ME, and that I have a responsibility to myself (and to everyone else) to be all that I can be, and to SHOW it to the world. So that's what I'm trying to do, - with my blog, with all my creative activities, my writing projects, and with my broadcasts.
And I think you're a lot like me, - I think you're a person with many facets and many passions. Just like me, you don't just have ONE thing that you're passionate about, and that's probably one of the reasons why it's been so damned hard for you to find your path in life. But there's also the challenges you experience because of PCS or PTSD. You've tried so many things, but most of those things were just you following other people's advice, and they didn't work for you in the long run. You've done what you thought you were "supposed" to do, or what other people said would be wise. But they haven't been in your shoes. They don't know what your challenges are. And that's why trying all those things has only left you feeling overwhelmed and confused.
It's been like that for me for a long time. I came to a point where I just knew that I had to change things in my life and start being ME again, but I didn't know exactly how I could do it. I have to have a livelihood of some sort, and I couldn't quite see how just being me could possibly bring in any money.... So having a job to support myself has been important. But I've known for a long time that I had to at least start moving in the direction of what I truly want, even at the risk of "spreading myself too thin" and making people confused about what I'm all about.
I've decided that I simply can't leave anything out if I want people to know who I truly am. Yes, it may result in some people not liking me (maybe even "hating" me) for it, but I'm OK with that. I don't need everybody to like me. I want to get through to the ones who feel that what I say and do resonate with them. The others can find someone else to follow, or create what THEY want.
So here I am, trying to share my True Self with you, and in that way (hopefully) inspire you to be Your True Self, - flaws and all. We all have flaws, but they're what makes us human AND unique. Nothing to be ashamed of!
First and foremost, I want to inspire, motivate and empower you to create your perfect lifestyle. I won't do that by telling you what to do, but by showing you possibilities and sharing examples for you to copy if you want, whether it's about interior decorating, a healthy lifestyle, beauty and personal grooming, fashion, leisure activities, money, or personal and spiritual growth. I want to share my expertise in various fields, for instance in starting a home-based business and how to live a good life despite your health issues connected with Post Concussion Syndrome or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I want to share with you some practical advice that can help you sort out what might work for you in your life.
By looking through my website you'll discover many sides of me, - even sides I've been hiding for years and feel very vulnerable about showing in public, but which are such a big part of who I am that I can't keep on hiding them if I want to live my life to the fullest and open up for new opportunities in my life. And I do want that! But it's also scary. However: I have to practice what I "preach", so if I'm telling you to be all that you can be, I'd better damn well follow up on that myself, - right? So I've decided that I'll even share the most vulnerable side of me with you, here on my website, and that is my artistic side (I hardly even dare to use that word.... "artistic"... in fear that it will back-fire on me!) - so if you want a glimpse of that, you can take a look HERE ...
SO .... my dear friend:
I hope my website and my blog and everything I do with my life will be of value and inspiration to you in some way or other, and I sincerely hope I'll get a chance to get to know you. So first of all: Follow my blog! And if you're a woman: Join my Facebook group, send me a note through my Contact form, or - even better - JOIN MY TRIBE! (If you're a man: Please respect that this is for women only.)
By signing up to my Newsletter, you can also get instant access to my library of FREE resources HERE... They are resources that can help you shift your mind and your habits to work more in your favor.
Let's get connected!
With love and respect,