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Wednesday Wisdom: Women Need Self-Love

May 15, 2019

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Success Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs, Women in Business, Women in Sports

I heard myself say, “Where do I begin?” Those words sparked a memory of a popular song when I was 6 years old. In a silky baritone voice Andy Williams sang, “Where do I begin to tell a story of how great a love can be? The sweet love story that is older than the sea. The simple truth about the love she brings to me. Where do I start?”

Those lines were the beginning of an instrumental theme in the 1970 film Love Story after the film’s distributor rejected the first set of lyrics. Andy Williams eventually recorded new lyrics. The first four words of the song stuck in my head as I tried to put pen to paper forcing myself to write a speech for a future event. Instead as usual, this tidbit of random thinking led me to today’s Wednesday Wisdom just like last week’s quote on my t-shirt inspired that editorial. It doesn’t take much to get my creative writing mind flowing.

Although the song’s lyrics are about a relationship between two people, it reflected a new truth in my life – a new self-love – adjusting to life without hair, refocusing on my business and members and getting back to myself after a year of loss, worry and coping with a medical condition. I knew it was essential to visit the best experts in the medical field to get the final diagnosis and answers to questions so I could move on. A week after that trip, I have new joy realizing I accept the medical condition and advice given as well as my decision to delay treatments, with both risks and rewards, until I am ready.

As my friend Teresa Huggins and I discuss all the time, our medical journeys have been “empowered medical journeys” because we refuse to settle for what society, reports and initial health care providers told us about our conditions and futures. We believe now we are healthy. It is a mindset; a joyful way of looking at black and white results and concluding there is more to do to change the world with our presence.

Could we be too positive for our own good? The two of us have had many conversations about this but in the end we choose to live zestful lives full of adventure, faith and positivity knowing we are called to do more for people we serve. We didn’t necessarily need a medical diagnosis to cement this in our minds but it has given us a more vibrant outlook worth sharing.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is meant for you to ask yourself if you choose to live your life with joy and zest no matter the circumstances or if you choose pessimistic thoughts to rule your thoughts and actions. You have a choice. You choose how to live. You choose if you want to run in the rain or stay inside hoping for the grey to pass. You decide to take your business up a notch or stay the course. Rewards come if you risk or not; but risking makes the rewards sweeter.

Tracy RunningAt this moment in time, I might just be the most joyful, bald-headed woman you know because I believe strongly in a deeper love of myself than a year ago. Andy Williams said it well, “Where do I begin to tell a story of how great a love can be?” This great love can be self-love. My hope is for you to love yourself enough to be the best woman and woman entrepreneur you can be no matter the circumstances.

Friday Feeling: Never Give Up

May 10, 2019

Inspiration for women, women in sports, women entrepreneurs and females with alopecia

Today’s blog post is a written piece from last year that I never shared. I was inspired to share it with you. I hope you find a message and inspiration in the post. This short post has motivated me to write a full speech on the wisdom learned from my Alopecia journey and become a paid speaker. I hope you enjoy the humor and meaning in this personal piece.

Tracy Running

Today started out with the intention of running. It is May 17, 2018 in Syracuse, New York, the snow has melted and the maple trees fully in bloom. A light humid breeze is swirling in the air making me feel like I’m waking up in Florida. I decide to start the day on an athletic note instead of work since I’m on a medical sabbatical. Some days it is harder than others to focus on “time off” because my mind still wants to work behind a desk promoting my company Women TIES or marketing the women entrepreneurs who are members. Many of them have applauded my decision to take care of myself. It shows what self-love looks like in the hectic world of business ownership.

I hear the voices of the women who are following me through this time period and decide to run to prepare for the Women Can Marathon next weekend in England. I re-read information about the course and the words “hilly off-course, rugged terrain” set off an alarm in my mind. I’m use to running on fairly flat roads. As I put on my bright pink NAVY hat so the tractors and cars don’t hit me while I run my farm road, I am excited to take off and let the warm humid air carry me up and over peaks, alongside horses and near farm land with small plants peeking out of the soil.

Sometimes best laid plans are unexpectedly halted because one can’t foresee what’s on the mind of others. Half way up the first big hill, a huge tractor carrying liquid cow manure went by me. If the wheels didn’t almost knock me off the road, the pungent smell of the contents sure did. After it passed twice, I turned around and returned home. I have a commitment in Devon, England and a stinky tractor wasn’t going to deter me from that trip and I’m positive no one would believe me if I told them I couldn’t come because I was hit by a manure truck.

After my return home, I decided to pick my second choice of exercise and walked down to my beautiful pool house that also acts as an aerobics studio and Jillian Michels workout pad. I was going to pump some iron, flatten my stomach and give my legs a different workout. I was determined to exercise before working in my office. As I went to grab the handle of the pool house door, a snake jumped out at me having found a warm place in the crevice of the door to literally “hang out” in the sun. Holy Batman is all I can tell you I said as I ran away from the door. My second fitness routine wasn’t possible since the snake went into the pool house.

All of a sudden I turned around and saw my beautiful pool, with pool water around 60 degrees and thought to myself, “should I dare?” After stepping on the first pool step, I retreated and said, “Tracy, you need to be hot before you get in that Maine temperature water;” but I didn’t want to run on the road or drive my car somewhere else to run. I just want to run immediately! I sounded like the bratty girl in the Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie! My creative mind set in because around my long pool is a beautiful “track” of decking which my eyes selected as my running route for the day. It was flat, unlike what I would be running in England, but I could just take off and so I did. I ran around the pool like a crazed woman who needed a fix. I have run that pool route before even though I don’t admit it to most people. The pool track is longer than a treadmill and outside so it works as a last resort if needed. I was at the last resort!

I started running, around and around, feeling pretty gleeful that the manure and snake did not stop my determination. I was acting pretty smug if I say so myself, when the next thing I know I’m doing a somersault half air born and onto the deck landing on my back, scrapping my leg and almost tearing up my hands. I lay there for a moment and yelled, “I give up! I give up!” as if everyone in the world could hear me. I lay there for 2 minutes and then sat up. Stood up and started running again with blood running down my right leg because I was not going to be stopped from doing what I set out to do on a glorious Central New York morning!

I ran 3.5 miles on that pool deck and ended my run with a jump in the cool waters followed by some water aerobics to Don McLean’s “American Pie!” Let me tell you, accomplishing a goal through trials is a feeling you can’t explain! I stayed in the water longer than I wanted getting some more leg work in and then sat on the stairs, right next to where I tripped, and smiled at the sun saying, “Good Job!”

The moment felt like a defining moment for me because I realize I don’t give up easily. When it comes to battling alopecia, with its own daily drawbacks, I think and act the same way as I do about running this morning. The moment I think I see some hair grow in, another strand falls out. When I think my hair is coming in, my doctor tells me she is disappointed in the progress of the treatment. When I step out confidently without my eyebrows penciled in above my eye, someone asks me what’s wrong and when I tell them about having alopecia and all they say is, “Oh!” Those setbacks don’t stop me or define me, they propel me forward.

Sitting on those swimming pool steps with the same warm breeze swirling through the very few wisps of hair I still have on my head, I grab the sunscreen rub it on my head to hopefully turn my scalp into a lovely tan to match my remaining hair – instant make-up I hope. Then I listen one more time to American Pie, smile at the sky, say some prayers and jump back in the water one more time to SIMPLY rejoice in accepting the trials and tribulations that come from a simple morning run, confronting a snake and discovering how deep my well runs when it comes to life and its trials. I know I might not conquer this disease but I also know it has picked one bad-ass, potentially bald woman, to test.

P.S. Life is meant to be shared.

Commitment – The Key To Every Success

May 9, 2019

Inspiration, Thursday Thoughts and Motivation for Women, Women Entrepreneurs, Women in Sports

As I read my Twitter feed this morning, two women I follow spoke about commitment – one about a personal commitment to obtain her PhD and the other committed to running a new long distance. The readings were followed by a phone call with a trusted nutritionist where I agreed to commit to a 100% healthy food intake to aid my body with an autoimmune disease. I vowed not only to myself but to her that I was ready to commit as my last option in this health journey with Alopecia.

I know I can do it because I’m a woman of commitment when I look at celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary in September or beginning my 24th year as a woman entrepreneur. I also see commitment to motherhood having two successful professional sons working in New York City after raising them while running a home-based business in the mid-1990s before technology made it easy and home based businesses were acceptable. I witnessed commitment when I trained for and ran the 2017 Boston Marathon. Yes, I can commit. I have proof.

So why is it so hard for women like me, with a track record of successful commitments, to start a new journey where commitment seems difficult? Shouldn’t two decades of experience, proof and tenacity prove strength and loyalty to a cause when we begin again? I think it is because women are doubtful of their own success no matter how many times they prove it to themselves. I know this happens in the business world as well as any career field. We doubt ourselves until we prove to ourselves we did it.

What can a doubtful woman or woman entrepreneur do to shore up her belief in herself? I have a few suggestions:

1. Look inside yourself and “feel” the commitment. You know when you are internally moved to try something challenging. It’s an instinct and knowing. If the thought to try something different or hard comes up time and again, act on it understanding it’s your own voice urging you to try and succeed.

2. Support your action by reading, watching or following someone who has accomplished similar challenges – whether it’s a woman who tripled her income in a year or a female who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. Soak in their motivation, steps and strategies to accomplish your new big undertaking.

3. Write down the goal. Set a timeframe to it. Set action steps. Announce it to the world. Keep your plan close by and then do it! Start. Begin. Believe. Know.

“You Got This!” is a phrase I’ve heard throughout the years when I publicly acknowledged a new big feat. Announcing goals is a positive way to begin accountability and support from those who follow you. Be committed. Stay the course. Begin. Go do it!

Business Is For Participating Not Spectating

May 8, 2019

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Motivation, Advice for women entrepreneurs, women in business, women in sports

These wise words of fatherly advice fell on the ears of a twelve year old girl, “Life is for participating, not spectating.” This resounding statement guided the tenacious girl through fifty years of her life leading her to an iconic status in her field. This statement is appropriate for every girl, boy, man and woman – especially women entrepreneurs.

In Kirsten Gillibrand’s “Off the Sidelines,” the now 2020 Presidential Candidate and New York State Senator recounts her personal journey in public service and galvanizes women to make a meaningful difference in the world around them. Similar to Kathrine Switzer’s father’s advice, Gillibrand empowers women to participate in government instead of being a public spectator.

Women who start their own companies understand these two pieces of advice because they took the leap of faith to become entrepreneurs thus entering the marketplace instead of taking the corporate route or just buying from others. They may or may not had someone advise them to get off the sidelines or stop spectating; but they jumped in boldly.

Entrepreneurship should never be a career of spectating but rather one of moderate changes and challenges. A woman can’t run a company the same way for 5, 10 or 20 years and not dismount the familiar sideline and re-enter once time, opportunities and economic factors demand it. Part of being a smart entrepreneur is acknowledging when one has sat on the sidelines too long, keeping services and products status quo, thus needing to make a splash back into the marketplace in a new way.

Sometimes the test for a solo business woman is understanding when too much time has passed before making a new move in their journey. Just when they get a certain level of comfort with what they sell and customers they serve, it might be time to innovate to keep from sitting on the sidelines too long again.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to provoke thoughts on whether you are spectating or participating to the best of your abilities in your industry and marketplace. If you feel you have been sitting on the sidelines too long, what can you do to re-enter or make new changes? Does attending an industry conference, learning new skills, finding a new economic advisor or pairing up with another business, excite you to start making changes?

Take today to think about what you could be doing differently and then begin with an action plan and new fire in your heart.

Women Are the Wind Beneath My Wings – My Alopecia Story Update

May 6, 2019

Monday Motivation, Inspiration and Wisdom for Women Entrepreneurs, Women in Sports, Women with Health Issues

Last Tuesday morning my commute to “work” was quite unusual. Driving with windows down, under billowing palm trees with humid sea water oozing in my windows, on a busy five lane highway, I found myself in the midst of Florida traffic on my way to one of the world’s best medical facilities – the Mayo Clinic. Not only did salty sea dew drops enter my airways, but a hope for answers to a current health crisis I had been living with for a year. Comfortable asking for help in the medical field because of my family connections, I approached the beautiful medical campus with my personal Physician Assistant by my side, my son Thomas, an orthopedic surgical PA from another top notch medical facility, HHS – Hospital for Special Surgery, based in New York City.

Excitement grew knowing I would visit with six specialists and have blood drawn in this high end clinic. My Upstate doctors didn’t suggest I go for second opinions but I knew I needed to move on with my life as a busy woman entrepreneur. I needed to ensure I had all the answers and latest medical advice to deal with this unexpected chapter in my life and return to living and working. The warm, bright sunshine led me straight to the parking garage and into the pristine complex of buildings with personable staff and highly educated doctors. If I couldn’t find my answers here, I wouldn’t find them anywhere.

As I continue with this blog post, I direct it to my members, friends and followers who are interested in the discoveries I learned at the Mayo Clinic last week to update them.

* My condition truly is an autoimmune condition called Alopecia Universalis with no other contributing factors. All five experts gave me a clean bill of health telling me except for my “baldness”, I’m quite healthy.

*My liver, which has suffered from years of Prednisone, is getting healthier which means if I decide, I can try one more round of steroids to try to grow my hair back if my liver is monitored through the treatment. Good news since my local doctors warned me to not go on them again. I’m trusting the expert advice of one of the best liver transplant doctors (a female at that) to proceed with steroids if I choose.

The decision that faces me now is whether I take another 6 week or 3 month supply of steroids which will increase cataracts, add another ten pounds of weight and potentially hurt my liver, and take me away from my public events again to regrow my hair? It is a difficult decision and one I’m not certain of taking quite yet. What would you do?

Life hands us unexpected difficulties which can pause our direction and challenge our confidence. Lessons learned along the journey opens us up to new ways of thinking and reprioritizing life and career. I know I am not done with this health challenge completely although I feel stronger each day in my new identity. I can’t simply wish to return to who I used to be but rather to accept who I am and move forward. I also hope women entrepreneurs who are faced with business challenges, aren’t afraid to seek expert advice to aid their decisions. We all need educated wisdom in our entrepreneurial and personal lives.

My deep affection for my Women TIES members, friends and family can never be measured. If I didn’t find a solution to growing hair, I definitely discovered people who sustain, lift and support me. My hair loss has led me to a deeper love for the people in my life and the women entrepreneurs and females I continue to serve. They have been the wind beneath my wings along.

Financial Success Provides a Circle of Opportunity for Women Entrepreneurs

April 22, 2019

Monday Motivation and Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs, Working Mothers, Female Business Owners

There once was a woman who dreamed of climbing the corporate ladder as soon as she emerged from college in the early 1980s. Bound and determined to work hard to advance herself, she took a job in the big city of Philadelphia and left her small hometown armed with education, intelligence and tenacity. Six months into her job she realized she couldn’t make a living on the salary she was making and ventured back to her alma mater to take her second job where the cost of living was less expensive and her job more in line with her abilities and desires. The pay was still low but she was determined to make this job work for her benefit.

After two years of loving that job, receiving raises and making her an important part of a small non-profit team, she left for a mid-size city where her new husband lived. She landed a job one step up from the job she left, advancing in pay and duties. She loved her new job. The only time she considered leaving it was when her first son was born and his big brown eyes seared into her motherly soul and she didn’t want to be away from him full time to climb her career ladder but to watch him climb park ladders in the sunshine.

She decided to approach her bosses about creating a job-share position from her full time job so the organization wouldn’t lose out and she could work her duties still and be a part time mother. To do this, she had to give up the organization’s retirement contributions to her retirement fund and cut her salary in half, but she gladly did so thinking of the moments as a mother and not as a retiree. By the time her second son entered the world, that part time salary couldn’t sustain day care rates and she had double the reason to stay at home.

Her entrepreneurial spirit took charge and she created a company, based on her nine year career experience and contacts, to make “her own” money and create flexibility to be with her sons while using her talents and expertise to help customers. A self-made career fit her like a glove and her career blossomed as her sons blossomed into elementary and junior high school boys. Her passion for entrepreneurial life sparked a leadership role inspiring other women to do the same and her second company was born – a girl for sure – since it was built on a feminist message with female clients.

Her second company grew and expanded across the state providing the income she needed to take care of her own car payments, household duties, son’s college savings and company growth. She had hit her career stride and was changing lives, making money while being involved in her son’s school, sports and college lives. Entrepreneurship was the perfect career opportunity for her. As she dropped her first son in Boston at college, she did not cry on the way home because she knew she spent as much time with him as she could while building a career and making money – even saving for a retirement plan.

Entrepreneurship is a viable career option for any woman working today who want to climb her own corporate ladder, create flexibility in her life for both work and family life, and create income to sustain herself, family and retirement.

As time continues to stretch on so do the options she has for making more money – perhaps in different ways – to feel energetic alive, connected and still climbing her own ladder while visiting her sons who are in their own careers in their own big cities.

For women, it all comes down to being focused on making money while building a solid career with flexibility to enjoy motherhood, marriage, vacations and life. For women entrepreneurs, it comes down to knowing our worth in business, asking our price, selling to the right customers and saving for the day when we retire to spend well deserved time with our children and their families. Financial success provides a continuing circle of opportunity for our own life plan.

Health Plus Business Equals Success

April 17, 2019

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Motivation for women entrepreneurs, women in business, female business owners

The wind was whipping, but not through my hair, since I don’t have any but the sun shone bright on my face warming it and turning pale cheeks to pink. After working a very early morning at my desk promoting and uniting women entrepreneurs, I needed a brisk bike ride around Onondaga Lake. Most women can’t find time to exercise, but I haven’t been that woman in twenty five years. A day isn’t perfect unless I partake in some type of fitness before, in the middle or at the end of my work day.

Last week’s Post Standard article revealing my smooth head due to Alopecia received 500 views on YouTube and 300 comments on Facebook along with multiple shares so the paper asked if I minded having my bald headed image, story and video shared on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper since it was only posted online last week. “Sure!” I said as if I landed a Vogue modeling gig. Sometimes I wonder why I am so honest although being candid has served me well promoting equality for women. I’ve never been someone who backed down from speaking up.

“Why do you want to share your story Tracy?” asked the reporter. I said, “If it helps other people with the disease, women losing their hair or defining beauty by women looking instead themselves instead of in the mirror, than I’m willing to share the image and lessons learned,” I responded. Sometimes in life and business, we don’t know what difficulties we might face. Unable to predict the future or our response to it, we do the best we can when the time arrives. It’s the same thing with my story.

If I share this personal wisdom more than business wisdom at times, it’s because we are more than just our companies. No one is immune from life’s lessons and adaptations. I understand now there were times I was so consumed with handling all entrepreneurial duties by myself that my health was affected. I don’t want that for the women I serve. There is time in the day for both work and play especially if we control our own schedules.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom, during this spring break week, is to encourage you to give yourself permission to walk away from your office and take a health break in the form of a walk, bike ride, run or yoga class. Women TIES has members who offer fitness, yoga and health coaching to get you moving. Take a look at our directory and invite another woman to join you. Start the habit now to build into your schedule so you stay mentally and physically healthy while working hard in your business.

Fresh air, pink cheeks and clean lungs have a way of fueling our spirit and mind for a clearer way of thinking when we return to our desks. We might not be in warm humid air, like our family or friends vacationing this week, but we still have multiple ways to add healthy living to our routine.

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