Hi, I’m Tracy Bradley
Owner/Founder, Ignition Transformation
I grew up in the mid-west, have a BA in Business/Marketing from Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles. Two ex-husbands, one current husband that I think I’ll keep. In my life I’ve been the single mom working three jobs. I’ve been the mother of two young adults trying to decide what she should do with the rest of her life. I’ve been in debt up to my eyeballs and gotten out of it. Sometimes I’m stubborn and don’t learn the first time, so I’ve been in debt up to my eyeballs and gotten out of it AGAIN. I’ve been a top business student at one of the leading women’s universities in the U.S. I’ve also been the part-time retail worker ringing up your purchase. In the years between graduating from college and now, I did not live up to others’ expectations of me. I didn’t live up to my own expectations of me, either. I started therapy, was diagnosed with ADHD, got mentally healthy, then was fired from a job and made it through my midlife crisis. I started thinking of it as my midlife transformation, and here we are.
And now, the LONG version. Fair warning, I’m not holding back. You’ll get both the things I’m proud of and the ones I’m not so proud of. They all have to happen to bring me to this place, at this time.
I grew up on a farm in the midwest. My family was probably less dysfunctional than some, but more than others. So you know, normal. I had something happen when I was in junior high school that created a profound change in my psyche. “The Incident” as I call it now, led to very severe ostracization and some moderately severe bullying in late junior high and high school. I may write about it someday, but right now it’s between me, my mother, and the World’s Greatest Therapist. (He shall be referred to a WGT from here on out, and I expect he will make more than one appearance in the blog.)
After high school I was ready to get out. My mother says I went to college as far away as possible without crossing water. Truth be told, that’s EXACTLY what I did! I ended up at a first rate women’s college in Los Angeles. Mount St. Mary’s University had one overriding goal at that time. The President of the College put it this way, “We like to graduate them just shy of cocky!” They felt they had a sacred duty to send compassionate and empowered women out into the world. When I get down on myself now, I remember that the Mount did not – and does not – make a lot of mistakes in the admissions process. They take young women they think can make a difference.
Then something happened. I got mixed up with a guy who did not have my best interests at heart. I wanted to be special so badly that I believed every lie I was fed. I even believed that I actually DID do something that made him call me names and control where I went and who I saw. He followed me back to Los Angeles in my junior year, and demanded that I spend time with him rather than going to class. My grades started to slip. My friends were worried. It was a really, really bad year. I did not go back to Los Angeles in the fall for my senior year. I think on some level I felt I no longer deserved the opportunity it gave me. Thankfully I found it within me to call my dad to come and get me, and I left that jerk in the dust.
During the gap year, I started dating a very nice, if somewhat emotionally unavailable guy, and even married him. My mentors and friends in LA started trying to get me to come back and finish school, but my Dad said he couldn’t afford it. When I told my mentors that, they offered to pay the out-of-pocket balance for my last year. We made a deal. At some point in the future, I will pay it forward. The girl I help will also have to make a deal. She will pay it forward as well.
Looking back, I don’t think my first husband and I could have possibly been less suited for each other! We were two very VERY different people He worked a series of odd jobs to help pay the rent while I finished school. He joined the Air Force because he had no intention of spending the rest of his life in odd jobs. When he got out of Basic Training we were stationed in Albuquerque, NM. I started a career I liked a lot, as a disc-jockey at a local radio station.
Then something else happened. My mother became chronically ill and came to live with us, we decided to have a baby, and then within a year our marriage fell apart. It was friendly enough. We shook hands to seal the deal on the day we decided it was over.
Do you remember how I said sometimes I’m stubborn and don’t learn the first time? Well, I did it again! I fell for the bad-boy, the liar, and the all around good for nothing …. Well, you get the idea. I can sum up the next ten years by saying this. We were bounced all over the country. We lived in Farmington, NM, Albany, GA, Augusta, GA, Hattiesburg, MS, and finally in Myrtle Beach, SC. It was in Myrtle Beach that the company he worked for finally decided he was more trouble than he was worth. For the next year he worked in fast food restaurants while trying to get back into his chosen profession. By now I had a new career that I really liked, as a TV news photographer. As much fun as that is, it doesn’t pay particularly well. Eventually I went to work doing video PR for the local school district.. He got a job in Texas. We “decided” I would come later after he had a chance to get settled.
Yeah, no. I don’t think I ever REALLY thought about moving to Texas. Still, it somehow came as a shock when I got the email on my work account, during the work day no less, that he really thought he just wanted a divorce. Can I just tell you what a crushing blow that was? I could not help but think to myself “How bad am I? I can’t even keep a husband THAT bad?” About a week later he called, told me he was sick, and asked me to send money so he could get medicine. I knew he had used that story as a ruse in the past. I don’t think I ever felt so good as when I answered, “I’m sorry, that’s not my problem and I have kids to feed.” and hung up the phone. What a relief that was. It was finally over.
I worked three jobs to keep my kids in the elementary school they went to. My mother saved me by always being there to watch my kids so I could make it happen. It wasn’t fun, but we did it. The bills got paid. I dug myself out of the debt the lout had left me with. After several months of being separated and trying to pull the money together to hire a divorce attorney, I decided to dip my toe into the dating pool again. This time I decided to give this whole “online dating” thing a chance. I followed every safety tip. I weeded through the wackos. I had a date scheduled with someone I was fairly sure was going to be a nice guy, and then chickened out and cancelled it.
But now I knew what I was capable of. I knew that I was willing to go through hell or high water for someone that I cared about, even if they didn’t deserve it. I knew that I was willing to work three jobs to keep us afloat if needed to. Most important, I just knew I COULD.
Eventually I came across this guy, who lived two hours away – was a former U.S. Marine, was putting himself through college on the GI bill. He was pretty darned cute, and about three years younger than me. After chatting online, we finally connected by phone, and eventually met in person in a VERY public place. We’ve been pretty inseparable ever since.
When he started making noises like he might want to get married, I told him that if he he planned to get married then he had better be damn sure. I was NOT getting divorced again. When we got married we still lived in two different states. We tried getting all five of us into the same state, either his or mine, but just couldn’t pull it off. Finally we decided that we would have to go looking for a third place to settle.
That’s how we came to Iowa. We arrived here just before our second anniversary, and also just before a major ice storm that knocked the power out for about two days. Welcome back to the midwest! That was 2007. We’ve been here ever since.
I’m not going to tell you that it’s been all rainbows and roses, because that would be a lie. He had a falling out with Mom that saw her having to move out. He and I had a couple of years in there where we did nothing but fight. One of the kids went through a phase where apparently he would’ve looked at the sky and tried to convince you that it was purple. In the end, he turned out ok. Better than ok. He’s a damn fine human and I’m proud of him. He ended up getting the short end of the stick sometimes, and I have apologized for that. At the same time, getting that short end of the stick made him extremely resilient, and self-actualizing. The youngest one is no slouch either. He’s a budding artist/engineer going off to a private college with a scholarship in the fall. He is also turning out to be a damn find human.
After we got here, I took about 6 months off. I thought I would stay home with the boys, maybe volunteer at their school… all that fun PTA mom type stuff. When we found out we were going to have our rental house sold out from under us, we started looking for a house to buy. When we found the perfect one, it was a little more than we could afford on his salary. So I went to work in a local department store, just until I got a “real” job. 8 years later I was still there.
Eventually I decided I had to get out. People had been telling me for years I was the best retail salesperson they had ever seen, so selling cars should be a piece of cake, right? Yeah. No. After they asked me to please stop trying to sell cars, they offered me a job in the call center for the service department. I. Hated. It. On the days when the phone were really popping it got my juices flowing, but otherwise I was a 45 year old woman who didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up, with as-of-yet undiagnosed ADHD, and a serious inferiority complex. ANNNNNDDDD I got fired.
It was during this time that I had the experience I described in the first blog post, “Why are you here?” My husband started to come to see WGT with me once in a while, and we started repairing our relationship. He encouraged me to take some time to work on myself and decide what to do with the rest of my life. I did, and it was a demanding period of time. I was continuing my education (in 1993 the internet wasn’t much of a thing yet.) and unpacking the leftover baggage of my youth. I had major healing take place and then pulled myself out of the “mid-life” crisis. I built networks, I applied for jobs, but nothing felt right. I had though about being an ADHD coach several months back, even before I got fired. I had even talked to WGT about it. I just didn’t …. think I could.
And then….. and then something ELSE happened …. But this time it was the best thing ever. I came across someone who described herself as a Success Coach. A Chief Inspirational Officer. On a whim I reached out and sent her an awkward little note asking how it was that she knew when it was time to step out and do her own thing. She answered, “I would like to call you.”. In the 20 minutes we were on the phone, I knew that the real answer to my question was “You don’t know you’re ready. It’s like having kids, there is no perfect time. You just go for it.”
Within 24 hours I knew I was going to coach. I had come far enough with my own transformation that I knew I could reach out and help the next person get through it. I knew I was going to do it as my own business because I am, after all, a grown-up. I don’t have to compete with anyone else. I am a student of the Mount and we are unstoppable. (That’s their word for this year. I totally stole it.) My husband got behind me, volunteered to build my website, and the rest…
…Well, you know the rest.
I have transformed into the woman I was always meant to be. The one I could have been 25 years ago if I had not gotten derailed. I’m as ready as I’ll ever get. Because it is never the right time. You just go for it. Are you ready to go for it? By all means, book your discovery call and lets get to work!
"I have transformed into the woman I was always meant to be. The one I could have been 25 years ago if I had not gotten derailed. I’m as ready as I’ll ever get. Because it is never the right time. You just go for it.
Are you ready to go for it? By all means, book your discovery call and lets get to work!"- Tracy Bradley