Tracy Willard – A Working Mom Builds a Foundation for Success
Posted by Rodan + Fields on Friday, August 30th, 2013
In 2007, Tracy Willard was living the American dream. She drove away from her beautiful Montana home each morning to a rewarding job, and at the end of the day, returned to her husband and two little girls. A educator of fifteen years, she had recently landed a position in the department of education at Montana State University, which is a dream come true for a passionate teacher. She looked forward to her days at school and evenings at home, secure in the comforts of sauce simmering on the stove, her daughters’ laughter, and stories at bedtime. She and her family lived a charmed life, filled with dinner parties, summer vacations, and ski resorts. There were warm summer nights with friends and cocktails, and long peaceful walks through the beauty of Montana’s grasslands. Tracy had everything she had ever wished for herself when she was a little girl, dreaming.
Then, in 2008 the U.S. economy began its downturn, and its fall became worse as 2009 approached. Like many Americans, the economic downturn hit Tracy’s family hard. As her husband’s company struggled with significant losses, the Willard family was challenged financially in ways they had never experienced. Their home went under notice of foreclosure, and all of their credit cards had reached their limits. Suddenly, the idyllic life they had known was shattered, leaving them struggling to survive. Instead of hosting dinner parties, Tracy found herself in line at the food bank- a place she used to visit to help, not to seek help. Familiar eyes cast questioning looks, now seeing her on the other side of the table. In this humbling experience, she began to feel lonely, isolated from the world she once knew. Many of her friends didn’t know what she was going through, because outwardly, all appeared calm. She drove the same car, and the family was still living in their foreclosed home. But the house, the car, and the Blackberry had changed from luxury items into relics, like ancient artifacts from a happier time. Tracy existed in the ruin, like a ghost within the walls of a decaying castle. Its structure all but demolished; its foundation shaken.
That foundation is what really matters, and Tracy’s foundation is her family. Her marriage suffered underneath the collapse around them, and she painfully recalls those dark, silent nights. “We had nothing positive to talk about, and I was worried about keeping my marriage together. I didn’t blame him for what happened, but I found myself having these critical thoughts.” She recalls that in her heartbreak, alone with those negative voices, she promised herself she was not going to let something like money ruin her marriage and break up her family.
Tracy despaired over how to go forward, and how to put the pieces back together again. She struggled to keep her emotions calm, her children stable, her marriage together. She said a prayer through her tears, begging God to show her a way out of this destruction. She remembers the day she said that prayer, and relates, “I sat on the floor of my closet and prayed for God to get us out of this downward spiral we were in. I prayed with all my heart for that, and then I went on a walk.” That walk turned out to be the beginning of her answered prayer.
When Tracy set out on a walk that afternoon, she had no specific direction in mind. She took a remote country path, where she had never seen another person walking. To her surprise, within minutes she ran into a friend. They started talking about Tracy’s situation, and that is how Tracy got introduced to a business opportunity in direct sales. It wasn’t a career she had ever thought of for herself, but she would do anything to save her family, and told herself she could do this. “I had no idea what I was doing when I first started this business. I was a teacher, and knew nothing about this,” she admits. “But life is about change, and if it meant helping my family, I could change, and learn something new. My father learned to cook and speak Italian at age 65, so at 40, I could learn a new business.”
She did learn, and over time she gradually built up her business. She believed in the products, and she worked hard to learn what she didn’t know. Her family was still barely getting by, but now she and her husband had hope, something to grasp onto as the storms of life raged on around them. Then one day, another act of God fell out of the sky.
A massive hail storm hit her town that year, sending giant balls of ice down onto the roofs of cars and houses, leaving behind devastating damage. But unlike the avalanche of financial collapse her family suffered under months before, this disaster actually saved the economy. The damage from the hail meant insurance claims all over the area, and jobs were created for roofers, contractors, and mechanics. The economy was regenerated, and Tracy’s husband was able to get work as an insurance claims adjuster. The family was able to do a short sale on their home and move into a rental. The worst was over, and Tracy, her husband, and her two little girls had weathered it all.
Tracy’s family is now thriving under the sunny skies of southern California, where Tracy continues to excel as a Level V Independent Consultant for Rodan + Fields. She has been rewarded with a supportive team, a new Lexus, and two vacation trips – well deserved, she feels, after what she endured. Free from debt and able to save money now, she has a bigger vision of setting up an organization that will help teachers have the opportunity to travel, something she knows most teachers can’t afford to do. When she earned her Lexus through the Rodan + Fields Road to RFX Car Incentive Program, she celebrated by hosting an event to honor her team and raise money for the Orange County Second Harvest Food Bank. “It was a full circle moment,” she says, remembering how wonderful it felt to be able to deliver the check to a food bank, just like the one that had been there for her and her family in their time of need.
Looking back on the crisis that befell them in Montana, she reflects on how it made her stronger: “I knew that I had it in me to get through that time, and that belief is what kept me going.”
Life can seem like a whirlwind of change. We can’t always predict the weather, but we can hold onto what matters, and that kind of strength can never be shaken.
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