Lessons From a Ghost: How Our Past Becomes Our Future


I was Tracy Picotte once.

Before I got married twenty years ago, and before I legally changed my name from Tracy to Theresa (which is a story for another day), I was a Midwestern girl named Tracy Picotte.

The ghost of Tracy Picotte visited me during my cleaning frenzy this evening. In an attempt to restore greater balance and normalcy in my life, it was necessary to invest a Friday night to clean up the mountains of clutter that had accumulated over the last year. I have several high-value writing projects I am working on, and, I don’t know about you, but my physical space needs to be clean, pretty and organized in order for me to optimally engage in the creative process.

I was putting away a sweet Mother’s Day card I had received from my daughter into my treasure chest when I happened upon this typewritten recommendation letter dated October 2, 1984 from my 4th- 8th grade gifted program teacher, Mrs. Raivio.

Her kind, insightful, dead-on assessment of the sassy, spirited girl that once was Tracy Picotte was like looking into the mirror of the past. It shook me in the best possible way to think that I began as a “mixture of adult and child with excellent insight into what made the people in her world tick.” Her words reminded me of the many gifts I had that I didn’t even know I had. All of those gifts continue to be a part of my world; as a keynoter, I am constantly getting my audiences involved in my presentations because I have always "had a strong interest in role-playing and in simulations."

Mrs. Raivio, thank you for seeing the Best of Me when I was sometimes at my worst. Thanks for giving me permission to be different and smart. Thanks for encouraging my, shall we say, commanding leadership style. Thanks for believing in me.

I am grateful for this unexpected moment of magic that filled my heart with so much joy. On this Women’s Equality Day, I am truly appreciating the “interesting young woman” I once was, but I am also honoring the amazing, magnificent woman I have become.

And Mrs. R, I’m still “an excellent mimic”! You’d be proud of me.

Who was one of your true inspirers? What person saw your brilliance? What did they see in you that maybe you hadn’t even seen yourself? What words would your biggest advocates have used to describe you? I’d love to hear who your Mrs. Raivio is!

#leadership #teacher #inspiration #speaking #womensequalityday

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