Tracy Matthews – RESILIENT A.F.: Stories of Resilience


“Life is too short to put your dreams on hold.” 

When I got the call, I was in shock. I had just seen her thirty minutes before. My friend, Rich, picked up the phone and listened. His Latino skin turned grey, and he said: “Here’s her daughter.” 

I was only 21 and in party mode with my friends, heading down to San Diego for a University formal. I was so confused.

The words made no sense at all: “Your mother didn’t make it!” 

What?? I had JUST seen her thirty minutes before, and she seemed “fine,” and I’d just left the hospital. How did she die? 

Her legs and feet were so swollen, and she played it off like it was nothing. Did I miss something? She did say she was having trouble breathing – even though she played it off with a big laugh. 

How was I to know she had a pulmonary embolism – a blot clot – forming in her once skinny legs?

She was only 45 years old and so full of life. And so full of criticism for her beautiful body that she thought was flawed. The crazy part was that she wasn’t sick – just caught up in body dysmorphia. 

My heart dropped. I’m gonna puke. My chest hurts so bad. 

I picked up the phone and called my brother, then my sister, then asked them to call our three other siblings.

As we rushed to the hospital, disbelief flooded me. My mom died?

My mother died of complications and a blood clot after elective surgery: liposuction, a tummy tuck, and reconstructive bladder surgery. I believe the true cause of her death was that she didn’t love herself or see how beautiful she was on the inside and outside. 

After years of searching for love and a purpose outside of her children, my mother had a lot going for her – a fiancé she loved, a new business venture, six great kids, and something she could call her own.

And right before she was about to have it all, she died. 

Losing a mother at a young age is strange. You face mortality and realize that life is too short. I’m 52 years old and remember my mother’s vibrant energy as I write this. She was one of the most unlikely people you’d expect to die at a young age. One day, she was here – being the life of the party – and the next day, she was gone. 

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned from the death of my mother is that life is too short to put your dreams on hold. Right after my mother died, I put my life into action. I realized I was setting my dreams on the back burner, so I figured out how to finish school.

My grief was overwhelming, but I knew I could do hard things – working full-time and taking more than a “full load” of classes wasn’t easy. My story of resilience starts here because I wanted to prove to myself (and my mother) that I would make my life meaningful. That’s when I found my passion for jewelry design.

During this time, I would have a recurring dream that I think was my psyche trying to protect me – I still have it sometimes. The dream is this: my mother didn’t die, but she ran away from and abandoned her life because she was ashamed of it.

That idea always felt sad because everyone only has this time and space to make the best of what they have. Around this time, I started learning more about personal growth, trauma healing, and the law of attraction. That’s when I realized how powerful mindset was in shaping one’s beliefs about themselves and their situation. And how those beliefs shape their reality. 

When I graduated from university, I decided that it was time. Instead of building someone else’s dream, I would build my own, and I’ve never looked back. That’s when I started my first business (a jewelry company). 

Following your dreams and living a creative life is not the easiest path, but it’s the MOST fulfilling. 

Even though it took a little time to figure it out, I used the GIFT of my creativity and my outside-of-the-box thinking to live an amazing life this far. To this day, I’ve founded four companies, found the love of my life, and currently teach other creative types to follow their dreams and turn them into reality.

Most importantly, I spend a lot of time doing things that make me feel alive, creative, passionate, and on purpose. I’m doing what I’m meant to do because I know there are no guarantees that I’ll be here tomorrow. 

If you’re reading this, I want to remind you that you can do anything you want, regardless of your circumstances or situation. Don’t wait another day to do “the thing” that’s calling to you, whether starting a business, finding true love, being of service, taking a dream vacation, or building a passion project. Find a way.

If you align your creative gifts with your passion, anything is possible. 

You’re not too old or too young. You can find the resources. Don’t put your dreams on hold because tomorrow may not come.

Are you ready to share your story of RESILIENCE? You can do that HERE.

Tracy Matthews - RESILIENT A.F.: Stories of Resilience
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