The Story of YOU: Meet Our Members
Member Spotlight: Tracey McEntyre “Inclusion is huge and something we need to do not only in school, but the world in general.”
Name: Tracey McEntyre
When did you first feel like a grown ass woman?
I didn’t get real confidence and strength until my 40’s. That’s when I felt like an adult. Period. 30’s; you’re still learning and getting out of cracks and crevices; you’re still questioning. 40’s; you know what you are doing, good or bad. I don’t worry so much now about people and what they are thinking about me. This is how I look; this is how I act and I’m not going to change so I can fit into your box. I feel like “love me this way, or don’t; this is how it’s going to be”.
What do you say to women who think they are “too old” for birthday celebrations?
I think “…if I make it, I have to celebrate.” I celebrate every year. I know a lot of people who are scared [or sad] that they are getting older. I say “…if you’re here, you made it another year. You still have meaning and purpose; you aren’t done yet… so celebrate!” It doesn’t have to be big; it can be whatever you want, but be proud of your age and that you’re getting older. It shows us that our chapter isn’t done yet. Getting older is scary, but I always remember that there are so many who didn’t make it to this age, that didn’t make it to see 2020. I love celebrating my birthday and I like to have people around me who have known me a long time, have made a mark on my life. I surround myself with people that I love and who matter to me. I want them to know that they’ve helped me to get here.
Who is your icon? I have a couple of people. My mom is the first. I lost her when I was 18. She was so glamorous and not necessarily in appearance. Yes, she wore makeup and did her hair, but the way she carried herself. She took pride, she held her head high and it had nothing to do with doing it for anyone else; it was about how she wanted to feel about herself.
Frida Kahlo is my second and I discovered her in high school. I thought her art was amazing. My friends thought her paintings were weird and scary, but to me, they just depicted her life. People thought she was so stuck up to paint herself, but she painted what she knew and that was herself. I love that she had a strong shell, but was still vulnerable. She was like “You don’t like who I am, oh well”. But I also saw aside of her that was like, “why don’t I look like everyone else?” and I could relate to that. (I felt like an ugly duckling in high school.) I liked her spirit, I liked that she had self-confidence and doubt, but that she never gave up. I appreciate that after everything she went through, she never gave up. She didn’t care what others thought, she lived life for herself. She also defended people who were not popular; she believed in speaking to the underdog, and speaking for independence.
My last icon is Angela Bassett. I have always admired her as an actress, but I enjoying watching her now that she is in her 60’s. She is just glowing. It’s scary getting older, we don’t know what will happen. But she is proud of that number and using the time she’s been given to enjoy it. She is loving life and represents that. Her body has aged but she’s taking care of herself and living the life she wants.
Oh, and of course, I love Michelle Obama, how can you not?!
All these women represent brackets of my life. Mom was birth to high school. Frida was high school and on. And now that I’m approaching my 50’s, it’s Angela.
What impact has Frida’s work had on your life? Her work allowed me to not apologize for who I am and to enjoy the body I’m in, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I thought she was beautiful, but a lot of people didn’t. Her paintings drew you in. She was in everything she created, so there was part of her that thought “I am beautiful, I am intelligent, powerful and worthy” — or at least that’s how I see it. And as I’m getting older, I’m feeling that way, too.
In my teens, I felt invisible; like the underdog for so long, so I felt like Frida Kahlo was speaking to me. I’m not a traditional person, I went to an arts school and ended up being a teacher by accident. I would get all the students in my class that were “difficult” for other teachers. And I would get those underdogs that no one knew how to deal with, but I loved them. Then I had a baby and he was diagnosed with Autism at 2.5 years. For me, it made things even clearer. I remember thinking, “time to get to work.” It was scary but didn’t devastate me. That is when my calling came in clearly: I wanted to make my voice stronger and become an advocate for those with Autism.
I became an *IEP coach so I can help our kids. It’s gone in different directions, but I’m always in the fight. Defending people is my purpose. My being is fighting for people who don’t have that voice. YET. It’s strange because growing up, I was shy and quiet. But now, wherever anyone needs a voice and someone to stand with them; that’s where I am.
*someone who helps other parents navigate the world of special education
What is your favorite compliment? The best compliment I’ve received is that someone liked my interaction with my son. He is Autistic, and I’ve gotten this feedback from people I don’t know. My mom used to say “…be careful because someone is always watching” and that’s never been more true than now, having a son with Autism. It means the world to me when someone (who doesn’t know me) notices this. It’s a reminder that I am carrying myself in a way that people respect and admire. We don’t always get that or feel appreciated for the hard work that we’re doing.
What words of wisdom do you have for someone else who has their own business? Take it day by day. Take your time, do what you love to create something out of it. It’s how I teach, how I raise my son, how I live — I put everything into it. You don’t have to live a cookie cutter life, doing what other people expect you to do. Any business you create is a lot of work but if you love it, take your time. You don’t have to do one thing; I have a couple of businesses, because that’s who I am. Create things that you love, and you will feel good about yourself. If you can create something out of what you love, do it. Life is too short to be miserable. If you need to have that main job until you can do it done, that’s good too.
What do you want people to know about life with disabilities?
Inclusion is so important; and it’s easier than people think. We all learn differently. We weren’t put on this earth to be segregated, and empathy goes a long way. More people need to talk to parents and families with special needs to understand how it feels. I have MS and I now walk with a cane. I hate it, it’s a pain in the ass but I have to do it. So when someone says something like “ugh, we have to move out of her way, she has a cane…” Guess what, I don’t want the cane, either! A little bit of empathy goes a long way. As humans, if something doesn’t pertain to us, we don’t worry about it until it comes into our yard — and only then are we are ready to fight for it. So put yourself in someone else’s shoes and gain some perspective; inclusion is something we need to do better in the world, in general. Talk to people (like you would anyone else) and see what’s it’s like in their skin. I think we’d get a lot more done. It’s not about feeling sorry but respecting what their journey is.
Tell me about living with Multiple Sclerosis. I am constantly on the move, so it’s not at the forefront of my mind. And I don’t talk about it often. I probably don’t talk about it because I know how serious it is. I know the best and worst-case scenarios and I don’t want to go there. I know it’s morbid, but I joke that I won’t know if I get Alzheimer’s because I already get brain fogs. I can be driving and completely forget where I’m going. I don’t want to think about the progression, I want to live and move today. My body gets tired from working eight hours, and there are times when I absolutely can’t do it. When I physically can’t, I can’t. It’s scary. I don’t want to freak my friends out, but I need them to understand how serious it is. I have two friends who really look out for me and stay on top of my health; they make sure I’m OK and force me to talk about it, which helps. I hate that I have to use a cane; I had zero symptoms which is scary. I try to take good care of my whole body. Pre diagnosis, I avoided the doctor; after my diagnosis, I have no problem going.
How do you define a successful day? Being patient, being happy, making others happy and not being too tired, which can be hard while living with MS. If I can stay patient, even if I’m not feeling well and make sure that what I’m feeling inside isn’t projected; then that’s a successful day.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself? I used to be a whiskey and coke girl but thanks to my friend; I am now a scotch girl. There are so many ranges and he has me hooked now!So many scotches can be smooth and buttery, not just hard core with a punch. In fact, we found a mini-series on Netflix about scotch, it was fascinating.
What is one thing you do just for you? I’m trying to be better with that. I have little things that give me comfort and one is a campy, British reality show. It’s my own little thing. A lot of people have bubble baths, but I can’t; my son won’t let that happen. So, my little thing is my show. And I buy things on Amazon. I have a slight obsession with Amazon and subscription boxes.
What is your favorite makeup product? I’ve gotta have a lippie. Even if I don’t wear makeup, I have to have a lip on. I always love a nice nude, or a good deep, wine red. Those are my colors, but I always have to have a lippie.
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which would it be? I’m not a person who has a lot of albums; I put a lot of songs together. Even when I was younger, I put all the songs I liked on a tape. I can name a couple of artists, but not an album that I absolutely need. If I had to pick one artist, Diana Ross. I love her so much that’s her name has become my sister’s nickname for me.
What is the most important thing outside of professional pursuits and family? How I live this life; will I have done everything I was here for? How will I have affected people and helped them? Making sure I live my purpose. Part of that purpose is teaching and educating. It’s always running through my mind: am I doing everything I was created to do? Living every moment of everyday. If I had a bad day, fine. But I can find something in that day to bring me joy, too.
Thank you, Tracey, for sharing your story with Dear Grown Ass Women™ and letting us get to know you.
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