tracey is a role model and inspiration for her daughters, and for all women. she has overcome, endured, and is a strong, kind-hearted, hardworking entrepreneur.
what is the biggest challenge or opportunity you’ve faced and how did it shape who you are?
one of the biggest challenges i’ve ever faced was being a single mom. after a thirteen year marriage and an abusive relationship, i filed for divorce and began the process of healing. i knew there had to be light at the end of the tunnel and also knew that i couldn’t raise my four girls in a hostile, unhealthy environment.
with a house in foreclosure and no support from my ex-husband, times were tough. i remember telling my oldest daughter to go to the neighbor and call me at work if she came home from school and found a bolt on the door. i pawned my wedding ring for the a mortgage payment, buying one more month of sanity. and so it continued... month after month, working long hours as a fitness director at the local gym, followed by part-time work as a speech language pathologist. life moved on. i was working all the time, so the girls missed me terribly and they rarely saw their father. the divorce was very hard for all of us, but we are a family—built on faith and love. the five of us girls banded together like a team does during a tough game—knowing that we would survive—stronger together.
i recall lying in bed at night with tears in my eyes, asking myself how in the hell did you end up here, tracey?
i was a great student athlete during high school and went on to get my masters in speech language pathology from ithaca college. my dream job was to be a sportscaster, but that’s a different story. i came from an amazing family, despite losing my idol—my father—at age 52 from leukemia, family time was good. i have two successful brothers and an amazing mother who supported my girls and me along the way.
going through the transition, i would often think back to my athletic career and what it taught me. i learned such powerful lessons along my journey. i continued to work out, and took my fitness career very seriously. exercise was like a drug to me. it was my outlet—my sanity. i completed several obstacle course races, triathlons and many other fitness events. my daughters cheered me on the whole time.
flash ahead to the present... i am now married to the most wonderful man on the planet, who not only supports and loves me, but takes care of the girls in a way i never knew was possible. i still live in my home with my mortgage paid off and no creditors on my back. my daughters are doing well. they are smart, athletic, healthy, and love jesus. i am a full-time speech pathologist for the buffalo public schools. i also own my own personal training business, DRIVE fitness. and to top it off, i am launching another business this spring (2018). i have created a food truck called the blend, which will offer protein shakes, protein bars, and coffee.
what’s one word, thought, or philosophy that you live by?
don’t quit, ever!
[hebrews 12:1-2 in the message bible]
do you see that this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? it means we’d better get on it. strip down, start running, and never quit. no extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. keep your eyes on jesus, who began and finished this race we’re in. study how he did it. because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with god—he could put up with anything along the way.
i pray that my girls, my family and the community of folks i am surrounded by draw on this mantra and don’t quit, ever. i recently made rubber mantra bands with this saying on it. my goal is to give out one band a day to someone who needs the extra push.
who is one woman that has impacted your life?
i have the privilege of calling this woman my mentor and friend. she is a lady by the name janet tangelder. janet was sent to me almost fourteen years ago as a referral from a friend to watch my girls at home so i could work. since then, janet has filled our home with love, kindness, and wisdom. janet would watch the girls several hours a day. she would drive them to practice, parties, and help with anything else they needed. she has attended almost every birthday party, graduation, dance recital, and family function. what makes her so special is her contagious energy, smile, and countless life stories. you see... janet is eighty three years old, but by looking at her you would never know it. she takes care of “senior citizens” for a living—driving them to their doctor appointments and taking them grocery shopping. although my children are older now, we still keep in touch with miss janet. we talk about how she has changed our lives. she is a hero to us and we don’t know where we would be without her.
our gritbabe journal features ladies from all walks of life who have persevered, overcome, and achieved great success. if you have a story to share, get in touch.