TUNKHANNOCK — It was just one day after the June 1998 tornado that swept through Lake Carey, damaging many homes in its path, that Terry Martin found herself at a threshold.
Martin had returned to find her home severely damaged. She said she dropped to the ground and she didn’t know if she could ever get up.
But she did get up. Like her 83-year-old mother, Marlene Ladner, told her, “What else are going to do? You’ve got to get up.”
Martin, now 60 and living near Tunkhannock, is a successful businesswoman and a beauty pageant contestant — having recently won the Ms. Pennsylvania title.
The mother of five children, Martin is the CEO/owner/founder of Mederi Cosmetics, and she is a medical esthetician and paramedical makeup artist, lay ministry speaker, author and radio talk-show host.
She also started her own newspaper and she’s a motivational speaker. Her passion and mission in life is to help women become empowered and confident by teaching them what she calls “making a change.”
Martin’s change, for the large part, was thrust upon her when the tornado destroyed her Lake Carey home. She had started her cosmetics company in the basement of that home, so when the tornado hit, Martin lost her home and her business — at a time when she was also going through a divorce.
Martin had married at age 17 and had her five children by the time she was 30. And in June 1998, at age 43, her struggles got much worse.
“When we returned to Lake Carey, the house was destroyed,” she said. “Everything was either wet or ruined. All the notes I had — detailed notes of my life — were gone.”
So Martin had to come up with a game plan — she had to find a job while she worked to bring her business back.
“I decided that being alive was Number 1,” she said. “After the tornado, I crashed. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I really couldn’t do anything.”
Martin went about the task of building up her mind and her body.
“I felt like a newborn person,” she said. “I didn’t even know what my favorite color was.”
She went to health food stores, she took vitamins and supplements and she drank a lot of water. She met her second husband, Wayne Martin, while shopping at a Weis Market in Clarks Summit.
Martin built her business. Her products are manufactured at laboratories all over the U.S. She gives motivational speeches, and she does presentations to help men and women.
Martin said her anti-aging products remove dead skin and reveal a healthier looking appearance. She said the products are moderately priced, comparable to what you would find in department stores.
She has battled cancer. She said she has all but eradicated the disease from her body. She said one remaining tumor will be gone soon. She credits her diet, her attitude and her faith for restoring her health.
Now that she has won the Ms. Pennsylvania title, Martin will compete for the Ms. America title in New Jersey on July 24.
Her friend, Mark Chamberlain, a former financial analyst and current motivational consultant, helped Martin through her struggles and he played a key role in getting her motivated.
Chamberlain helped Martin earn her “PhD” — which he defines as “Pig-Headed Determination.” Martin said she adopted the philosophy and it worked for her.
“I was the oldest contestant in the Ms. Pennsylvania contest, but I knew I was going to win,” Martin said.
For her talent at the national pageant, Martin said she will offer a motivational speech.
“I can’t sing and I can’t dance or play a musical instrument,” she said.
Martin said she grew up under difficult conditions — her family was poor and her father was an alcoholic.
“You can come from a bad home life and still make it in this world,” she said. “No excuses. You can turn a curse into a blessing.”
Martin won’t give details on her company’s sales numbers, but she says she is doing very well. Her son runs Mederi Skin Care and she handles Mederi Cosmetics. She said she wants to buy a recreational vehicle and travel the country giving motivational speeches. She said she challenges people to find their “soul goal.”
“Nobody should die with their soul goal still inside them, unfulfilled,” she said. “You have to get it out so you can feel unstifled.”
Martin said Chamberlain helped her believe that everybody can do better.
“Whomever you are, your capable of more,” she said.
About two weeks ago, Martin attended a wedding at Union Chapel at Lake Carey. The chapel is located next to her former house, which has been rebuilt and remodeled by the new owner. Martin said she had to go inside to see the place.
“The woman who lives there walked me through,” Martin said. “Nothing was the same. And I thought how my life is nothing like it was back in 1998.”
Martin said when she thinks about that June day in 1998 when she was laying on the ground unable to get up, she never thought she would be where she is today.
“What got me motivated was my desire to live,” she said.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.