Today I have the pleasure of talking with my good friend Tracy Kay. Tracy and I met when we were working in the same office. One day over lunch at Panera, it became clear we would be lifelong friends.
Tracy’s mom taught her to believe she could do anything she wanted. After graduating from the Baltimore High School for the Arts as a dance major, Tracy enjoyed a fulfilling career performing in musical theatre shows throughout the US and Europe. Once she started a family tho, she found herself struggling to live the life she thought society expected of her but wasn’t authentic to who she was.
Whereas manifesting her heart’s desires had been easy before, now her life felt heavy and difficult and frustrating. As she worked through the agony of thinking something must be wrong with her, and for the sake of her children, she stayed in her situation for another 15 years before finding the courage to – in her words – run through the flames away from the fire.
Today, she continues to move from “fine” to “fantastic” by listening to her inner truth and taking baby steps to move her in the right direction. She says “At times, the journey can be difficult, but living a life of regret would be even more difficult.”
Tracy’s hype song is Fight Song by Rachel Platten https://youtu.be/xo1VInw-SKc
Find out more about Tracy here https://www.instagram.com/tracykaygriffin/
Come join us in the Fine is a 4-Letter Word Facebook group.
This episode is sponsored by Zen Rabbit. When you’re asking yourself “what’s next for me? Who am I now, in this next season of life? And where do I even start figuring out my purpose?” the F*ck Being Fine Experience is here for you. Go to https://zenrabbit.com/ to learn more or to schedule a complimentary call.
Lori Saitz (00:01):
Hello, and welcome to fine is a four letter word. My guest today is the one and only Tracy Kay I'm so excited. You know, most podcasters probably start by talking to their friends, but I didn't do that. I started with people I didn't know, and have now moving to my friends. So, so yeah, Tracy and I have been friends for like almost, I think it's almost six years. Like many of my friends was the inspiration for this podcast. So I'm super excited to have you on my show now and talking about your story.
Tracy Kay (00:44):
Thanks. Yeah. This is a great conversation, Lori. This is so valuable to so many people
Lori Saitz (00:50):
Let's start with what were the values or beliefs that were instilled in you when you were younger?
Tracy Kay (00:57):
Well, Lori, I really don't know to be honest with you. I mean, I, my mother did a really good job at telling me I could do anything that I wanted and I had natural dancing abilities. And I had the dream of being a theater dancer, a professional theater dancer, and she encouraged that. And that's probably the most wonderful gift anyone could have given me was that, but that being said, life experiences gave me many unconscious beliefs. So I have a lot of unconscious beliefs that I'm just becoming aware of and understanding that they are deep rooted. And I'm trying to get a grip on those and alter those beliefs, understanding that a belief is just a thought that I've thought over and over again. And it grooved its way into my brain as a belief. It doesn't. Yeah.
Lori Saitz (01:59):
That's why I asked this question of my guests, because I want to find out what were the beliefs that were instilled in you that are showing up now that maybe, or maybe you don't recognize because when we're little, we don't have a choice. Like we don't know any better, so we just accept everything and now, and right. So it's contributed, like we've talked about it's contributed to your outcomes in life. And now that we're aware of what those beliefs might have been, we can change them. Right. That's why I'm asking.
Tracy Kay (02:35):
Yeah. Yeah. So obviously I take a look at the conditions of my life and I can break it down into segments. And so let's look at my fitness weight. I'm extraordinarily fit for age 54. And I know I had to catch myself there. You know, I've got goals for my 55th birthday, so I have 55 on the mind. But, um, so my uncle used to tease me when I was younger for being skinny. And he used to say, oh, Tracy, don't go outside. It's windy. The wind will carry you away. Or when I would sit on his lap and I was literally, I don't know, seven or eight years old, when I would sit on his lap, he would tease me for having a bony tushy. He's like, oh my gosh, you're so skinny. So I would imagine that that went into my psyche because I've always thought of myself as naturally thin.
Tracy Kay (03:30):
And I know when I was 48 preparing for my 50th birthday, I was 10 pounds overweight. So 10 pounds overweight for me. So when I graduated high school, I was 108 pounds at five foot four. So that's what I use as my bar.
Lori Saitz (03:45):
And everybody who's listening right now hates you. I know, right?
Tracy Kay (03:49):
For me, that's why I prefaced that because body is different and every body has a different bar. So when I was 18 and I graduated high school, I was working in a theater show and they raid me and measured me every week because I was a dancer. I was a professional dancers. So I knew I was 108 pounds. So that was the bar for me. And so I have reached 120 pounds on my 48th birthday. And I was having a hard time getting out of bed because I felt heavy and sluggish and I had no muscle definition. And I thought to myself, what happened to me? I had two children and life got in the way, but I'm, I'm fine. I mean, I'm not grossly overweight. I'm fine.
Lori Saitz (04:39):
Yeah. Anyone looking at you would not have guessed that you felt that way.
Tracy Kay (04:41):
I looked great in a pair of jeans, but I did not look great in a bikini. And the bottom line was I did not feel great. And you talk about Fine to Fantastic. Yes, I was fine, but the fine felt was far less than the way I wanted to feel. So, you know, you and I were working together when I was on this journey and I didn't know how to get to where I wanted to go. So I had to research it. I found a trainer. I flew out to Florida because the woman that I found whose body I adored, lived in Florida. So, you know, I flew out there and I trained with her and I learned everything I could about exercising and nutrition. And six days a week, 5:30 in the morning, my butt was up and up to gym. And I put in all the work I could to feel really good in my own skin when I turned 50 years old and I did it. So I did go from fine to fantastic in that one arena now, you know, because you're my friend, right.
Lori Saitz (05:47):
Right. And, and I want to make the point here that you did the research. Like, you didn't feel good. You didn't know what to do, but you did the research to figure it out. And then you took the action. Cause you know, a lot of people stay like, I don't know what to do and then just stay there.
Tracy Kay (06:08):
Right. So I knew if I turned 50 years old, feeling badly in my own skin, it was going to be a really awful experience. And I did not want that for my life. I did not want that for myself.
Lori Saitz (06:23):
Right. So the, the thought of not taking action was more painful than the taking action. Yes.
Tracy Kay (06:31):
So that's one area of my life.
Lori Saitz (06:34):
Right. So, yeah. So I want to also talk about the, the beliefs again, back to the childhood. Like what led you to the first, uh, let's say 20 years of adulthood,
Tracy Kay (06:46):
My mother was the reason why I believed that I could be a professional dancer. It was my mother. She got me involved in a dance studio when I was 11 and I really enjoyed it. I was the new girl in a more advanced class. So my mother just really supported me and told me I couldn't do it. And I kept doing it. And then I went to a school high school for the performing arts. And at that time there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to be a professional dancer and I was going to make my living as a theater dancer, not a single doubt. And I think my mother is a huge component in that, in that strong knowing it wasn't even a belief. It was beyond a belief. It was, I knew who I was in the world and I was a theater dancer.
Tracy Kay (07:31):
So I graduated high school. Well through high school, I was doing community theater, dinner theater, and, and, and some professional theater. Like I did a president's inauguration. I did, uh, symphony orchestra, uh, performances. I was performing and I had a contract lined up right after high school and then a contract lined up after that. And after that, and after that, and I did, I went on and I did theater shows. I did national tours, European tours, regional theaters. I did all things theaters until I hit about, I think I was 31 when I left that industry. And then I had to make a change. I wanted, I had a new dream of having a family and then I wanted to go and do that. So I would say my subconscious beliefs were instilled in me by my mother to be a dancer.
Lori Saitz (08:21):
Right. And the belief that you could do it. And then as we've talked about in the past, the manifesting of every new job, like you didn't think about it, you just did it. You just, just opportunities just showed up for you.
Tracy Kay (08:35):
They did, because I think looking back, knowing what I know now, Lori, and you can chime in because you and I talk about this all the time. I had no resistance. I had no negative beliefs that were going against what I wanted to do. I was in, I was happy. I was authentically living my life. I did not fit into the mold. And my mother supported that my mother, mother never put a mold on me. I was in my pond. I was, I was a fish swimming in my pond. And so I was authentically myself being who I was supposed to be in this world. And I was happy. I was genuinely happy. And that's why I think life just unfolded naturally for me, because I was just happy in it.
Lori Saitz (09:27):
So then when you decided that you wanted to get married and have children, were you doing that because you genuinely wanted that or because you thought that's what you were supposed to do.
Tracy Kay (09:36):
So a combination of things there, I genuinely wanted a family. For sure. This was, this was a dream. However, here's where my limiting beliefs tripped me up a little bit. This is hard. I believed that in order to have a family and in order to be the right kind of mother that I should be okay. So here's my language that I needed to be grounded. I needed to be in a nine to five lifestyle. So I betrayed who I was as a fidgeter dancer. And part of that is knowing my bio rhythms. My natural bio rhythms worked perfectly for being a dancer. I woke up around nine every day. It was a very easy laid back lifestyle. In that one I was performing. My days were pretty much free. I had to be at the theater before 7:30 PM because curtain was up at 8 0 5 and the show was over at 10 30.
Tracy Kay (10:50):
And I left the theater at 11 and I was a bit of a homebody. So I would usually sometimes go out with the cast afterwards, but more times than not, I would go home and take a shower and read a book and go to bed. Now that like still fit me so well, but I should all over myself when I wanted your mother. So I thought, oh, in order to be a mother, children grow up in a nine to five framework. So I need to force myself into a nine to five mold. I was very much my sister, my older sister calls me a free spirit because I lived out of a suitcase for years. And I was Uber happy doing that. It felt free and light and area. I did not have a lot of material possessions. I lived with my girlfriend in Manhattan. It was her apartment. I lived with her. All the furniture was her. All of my belongings could fit into two suitcases. Wow. So when I decided to get married, I knew I should embrace the nine to five lifestyle. I knew I had to marry a man who already was deep into that nine to five lifestyle because I imposed the role or the responsibility on him to ground me so that I could force myself to fit into that nine to five lifestyle. And here's another thing, oh God, this, this is hard. That's
Lori Saitz (12:15):
Okay. I will just, I'll just interject here that in the episode that I did with Dara Goldberg, we talked about shedding the shoulds.
Tracy Kay (12:24):
Okay. Interesting. Cause I didn't do that start, but strangely enough, I have always had a little bit of a self-esteem issue. Go figure. I don't know. I don't know where it came from. Cause my mom did such a good job raising me and giving me she did everything to give me inner strength because the dancer world was competitive. Sure. And I do have some issues about, yeah, I don't want to get into it, but my family, like we didn't have a really big, beautiful house. And I felt a little embarrassed by my tiny little row home. And my parents were really into their boating passions and they weren't really into the house the way the house looks like it just for a forte that wasn't their priority. It wasn't their priority tape. Yeah, they are. So the exterior of the house looked at little shabby and I was always a little bit embarrassed by that.
Tracy Kay (13:16):
So it made me feel less than looking back. I'm imagining that this was a factor into me feeling less than. And because of that, I think this is me psychoanalyzing myself. My self esteem thought that a man would not really, no man would ever love me for me. Exactly. As I was now, that being said, I did have a turbulent difficult relationship where I was in love with a man with a theater actor, Lori, you know this. And I knew he was in love with me and I didn't understand why things weren't working out with us. He wouldn't commit to me. I just feel that just fed that insecurity. It did. It fed that insecurity. So when I decided to get married, I was very calculated. I knew I couldn't find a man to love me for me. And I knew a man that I would end up being would have to be a man that would need me in some way.
Tracy Kay (14:22):
So, and I also wanted a friendship because my romantic, my previous romantic relationship had really broken my heart in an unhealthy way. And it devastated me. So I forced myself to marry a guy who was, who I had a very loving, harmonious, deep friendship with. And he had a son that he was raising on his own. So I was instant stepmother. My intentions were pure, but wow. I was not up to that task. The man that I married was in the insurance industry and I came from a theater background. That's two totally different worlds. Yeah.
Lori Saitz (15:07):
You put it out there into the universe. I want stability, but it brought it right to you.
Tracy Kay (15:12):
No, I could have found stability knowing now what I, what I know with somebody as eccentric as I was.
Lori Saitz (15:21):
Yeah. This is the whole thing is when we see it, when we're looking backwards, not when we're in it. Right.
Tracy Kay (15:27):
So when I was in it, my lack of self esteem said I needed to be with somebody that needed me because nobody's gonna love me. And I forced myself into a nine to five culture. That was probably the hardest thing for me. I missed the theater. It was like a part of me had died. So I was no longer involved in a world of I'll use the word eccentricity for lack of a better term. But
Tracy Kay (16:01):
Theater arts people are authentically, wildly delicious, slowly embodying themselves. Right. And it's just so accepted and they're so creative. So it is this delicious combination to create for outside of the box, bigging, living and thinking. And I loved that so much. And so I forfeited that to marry somebody who was more traditional, more inside the box square peg who fitness square hole follow the traditional way of life in Northern Virginia. Meaning get up in the morning, do your Monday through Friday nine to five job clock in clock out, take home your paycheck, go home.
Lori Saitz (16:52):
How long were you in this situation before you realize this is not really working for you?
Tracy Kay (16:58):
It was a while now I was married for three years when I knew that I was deeply depressed and I thought it was something wrong with me. And then I started soul searching to figure out what I was doing wrong. Why I was sad. The challenges of motherhood were difficult. I also had a step son that was difficult. I was insanely steep, sleep deprived. That was the hardest thing of my life. I just had so many challenges and looking back, I can now see that, um, you know, Einstein's quote, if you ask a fish to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it's stupid. I was suddenly a fish trying to climb a tree. I was living a life. Wasn't my authentic life. Instead of recognizing that like, holy cow, I jumped outside of who I am trying to become someone that I'm not, I was married. I had a child who I adored. My husband and I were great friends and I just could not see that I was not being true to myself. So what I tried to do is I tried to figure out what was wrong with me. Yeah.
Lori Saitz (18:16):
This is so common. It's crazy how we try to, like, we take it on as our thing, like something must be wrong with me if this situation is not working.
Tracy Kay (18:28):
Yeah. So my sweet husband at the time I went through a lot of depression and he was very kind and very patient and did try to help me in trying to help me find my inner peace and my inner balance. And I never quite grasped the concept that when you have peace on the inside and you have self-love on the inside and you know who you are on the inside and you know what you want on the inside and you feel the essence of all that, that your outside will just naturally easily without effort materialized to reflect that.
Lori Saitz (19:11):
Now that's something you've only come to understand recently,
Speaker 3 (19:15):
Lori Saitz (19:16):
So you were with John for 20 years, right?
Tracy Kay (19:19):
20 years married, I think in total 21 years.
Lori Saitz (19:25):
So you were in that fine for all of those years until finally you decided that wasn't okay anymore
Tracy Kay (19:34):
Because Lori on the outside things looked fine. Sure. One side I was far from fine. I wasn't even close to fine. I was, I was in agony. I was in pain, but on the outside, no one would have known.
Lori Saitz (19:49):
That's what, I'm pretty sure a lot of the people listening to us right now are feeling, thinking and feeling themselves.
Tracy Kay (19:56):
Right? So again, it was that 50th birthday that really donated me. So I had achieved an outstanding physique and I showed myself that I could do that. And I was really happy to feel like me again. And I knew I had to keep going. I had to keep moving in the direction of feeling like me. I didn't want to die with any regrets. And I knew the journey was going to be hard, but I had to move in the direction of being my authentic self in the world.
Lori Saitz (20:28):
Because again, the fear of not being, it was greater than the fear of staying where you were.
Tracy Kay (20:36):
Yes, exactly. And the fear was practically debilitating. The fear it felt to me like, um, like if you're in a burning house and there's fire behind you, so you go behind you and in front of you, there are flames that are 60 deep. But past that six foot wall of flames was the outside of your house. That was your safe Haven. I had to run through the flames. To me, the flames were fear. They were, it was the fear I had to run really fast to get through the fear, to get me outside of the fires, the fear
Lori Saitz (21:13):
Being the fear of leaving the marriage, the fear of leaving the marriage. I
Tracy Kay (21:19):
Was terrified. I mean, terrified. Once I had made the decision, I knew I had to make the next decision. Next decision next was I needed that momentum like a snowball. Yeah. I need to do make decisions really fast. And I needed to make it happen fast because the fear was so overwhelming that I had to move through it as quickly as I could, because if I didn't, I may have regressed and gone back. I may have gone back and I moved forward.
Lori Saitz (21:49):
And so what's it like now on the other side. So outside the flight, the flame,
Tracy Kay (21:55):
So I'm still adjusting then a year and a half since I made those rapid fire decisions. And the last year and a half has been filled with very high highs and very, no very high highs, but coupled with some lows.
Lori Saitz (22:11):
Yeah. And that's just life in general. Uh, it
Tracy Kay (22:14):
Was a psychological adjustment. You know, my heartstrings with my daughter, I sobbed on the phone to you at at least a dozen times. But you know, I, I, my daughters, my daughters, my daughters, my daughters, that was the hardest thing was letting them go. And then, and just
Lori Saitz (22:30):
To clarify for the listeners who don't know the story, you, they stayed living in the house and you left, but they're still your daughters. There's nothing. They didn't go anywhere.
Tracy Kay (22:40):
And they're, they're ages 17 and 20 right now. And I just had Leslie out, we were just driving for a few hours and we went to the mall and we've got Chick-fil-A and yeah. Yeah. But it was hard because I was a stay-at-home mom for the first six years of their lives. And I was their full-time mom, 24 7, all hands on deck with me, you know, that was my that's my priority. That was my dream. And so, um, my ex-husband and I divide decided with the divorce mediator, that it was in the best interest of everyone, for him to stay in the house. He was running a business out of the house. It had a backyard for his three dogs. It was near the hiking trails for him and his three dogs and the girls were settled there. So we had decided that I was going to move out. I moved seven minutes away, condo. They have a key, they come and go as they please. But that was the hard part. And yeah, in addition to my heart, having to adjust to a different kind of relationship with my young women daughters, I had to learn, this is crazy. Hey, I had no more health insurance. What the heck? How do you buy health insurance? Hey, I had no more car insurance, car insurance. Um, I got that. I don't figure that out. Right.
Lori Saitz (23:56):
Some practical things here. Smart
Tracy Kay (23:59):
TV, wifi. Okay. Uh, how do you set up Li-Fi and it was funny because I was telling my 20 year old, all of this, like last week and she goes, oh mom, and you learned, it's not that hard. Right. But initially I was in headlights. I was terrified of these things because these are things that my ex-husband always took care of. And now you know how to do them now. It's nothing. Now I got it. And I have learned that this is my biggest lesson. When you don't have the answers, someone around you does.
Lori Saitz (24:36):
Oh, that is gold right there.
Tracy Kay (24:39):
My biggest lesson, I don't have the answers someone around me does. And sometimes it's a stranger. Sometimes it's the guy in the tow truck. When does it start? And I'm like, oh crap. What do I do? Now? My ex husband had to deal with this and I'm like, oh God. So tow truck guy comes and he's like, okay, let me do a check on your, uh, on your battery. Let me check your alternator. And let's get you over to the service center. Make sure they've run diagnostics and make sure they check this and make sure they check that. Thank you, Mr. Stranger.
Lori Saitz (25:14):
So It's about trusting the universe to bring you in the resources and the answers that you need when you don't have them. And it happens every single time. It
Tracy Kay (25:23):
Happened every time,
Lori Saitz (25:26):
Such an awesome lesson to finish this episode with, but not quite finished because as I ask every single one of my guests, what is your hype song? The walkup song, the song that you listened to to get you pumped up when you need some extra enters.
Tracy Kay (25:43):
Oh my gosh, you're killing me here. There's a song by Ariana Grande day that I love. And then what's that song? This is your fight song. This is your Fight Song, do you know that song? Who the original singer was, but
Lori Saitz (25:55):
Yeah. Um, now it's leaving my head too. Uh, I can hear it in my head though. Rachel Platten. And we'll put it in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining me today. Tracy Kay as
Tracy Kay (26:06):
Great conversation. Thank you, Lori. All
Lori Saitz (26:08):
Right, we'll see you. Next time on fine is a four-letter word.