TRP Interview: Revealing Tracey Bea Thomas

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"Tracey Bea" 

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I just kept saying her name, over and over in the days before our photo shoot, and then, like the strange creature I am, I'd even yell her name out in my head like, "YO!" 

"Tracey B!"

I have no real explanation for how I prepare for the women who come through. It's always different, and there's always something going on for me in a spiritual sense as the shoot gets closer like tuning in. Sometimes I go into wardrobe-mode and start feeling out what clothing wants to come with me. In Tracey's case I was feeling the black lace and long lines with denim and and chunky jewelry . I had the instinct that she would be funky, cool, and fun. 

When I arrived at the shoot, Tracey was deep in thought, writing in her journal. She didn't look up, so I didn't interrupt. We all spent the time quietly setting up. Usually if time allows I organize all of my shnizzle-shnazzle, make-up and hair stuff and pretend I'm a real-live makeup artist.  I swear, one of these days I'm going to get myself one of those make-up tool-belts all the real stylists wear so I can feel myself, but I digress. 

When we did finally gather in our opening circle I could see that Tracey was like a reflective pool filled with lotus flowers and coy fish. Her hair was this magnificent teal color and my mind flickered to a familiar Monet painting.  I can't help but notice a woman's form right off the bat, I tend to take in the planes of her face, the lines of her beauty, and in Tracey's case, I became instantly mesmerized by her cheekbones. She had grounded herself with her writing, but I could sense that she was flitting around inside a bit, trying to navigate the three of us, all taking her in.  

I'm not going to lie. I fall in love with everyone who does our project.  Tracey was no exception but the difference is that usually I love from a distance because I don't want to be weird. I'm also not naturally very physically demonstrative (honestly, not at all until Kim and Andrea) but I forgot all that and practically sat in Tracey's lap while doing her make-up and got right up in her grill like we had known each other forever.  She's just the most adorable, quirky, fun-loving, honest versions of .. people I love.  She's precious. You'll see what I mean. 

Please tell us a little bit about you:

I feel like I’m in a reflective stage of my life.  Just loving the peace and calm that seem to be moving in.  Don’t feel the need to be super-active like I was in my 20s, but also don’t feel the need to slow down.  It’s a great spot to be in. 

I am fortunate to be retired, so that allows me to travel.  Travel is good for my soul.  It’s where I dig deep and really see who I am, to see what I’m made of.  I get restless if there isn’t a travel destination on my calendar.

Music is, well, my saving grace.  It fits any mood.  I took a couple of music classes a few years ago, and the professor was wonderful.  SO enthusiastic & compelling in how he taught the classes.  And, we were close in age, so that was fun, in that he and I understood each other….musically!   Sadly, he passed away, not long after there were no more classes in his curriculum that I could take.  How ironic, eh?  Felt like that period in my life happened for a reason.  Anyway, he taught me how to appreciate all kinds of music, which I’m forever grateful for.   Which I think, in turn, helped me to apply that to all aspects of life.  He was a gem,  and I’m a better person for having known him.  Learned a lot from him.

My friends and family are important in my life.  They lift me up, support me and love me.  My existence is richer because of them.

I’m making a film, and that is a big deal, simply because I have no formal film education or training!   But, in the last few years it just kind of happened and it’s exciting and interesting and fun, and I’m doin’ it!   My partner Dennis and I were doing it together, but , sadly he passed away 2 yrs ago.  I’ve only recently felt as if  my head and heart are healed enough to continue moving forward with it.  It will be a challenge, indeed. But, well, time marches on.  I’m up for the experience, of it all.

What are the biggest challenges that have faced you as a woman?

Being brave, being taken seriously, and not being judged…just for being a woman.

What are some of the issues that you think are important to explore as it relates to being a woman?

I'll repeat: Being brave, being taken seriously, and not being judged…just for being a woman.

What can’t you tolerate in the world?

My friends hurting.
Cruelty to animals.
Not being able to share a wonderful moment with someone who’s gone.  Oh, it’s tolerable most of the time, but, there are days where it’s most unbearable.

What frightens you the most?

Frightens might be a strong word. I’m not frightened of much. I’m 63.  What’s there to be afraid of now?
None of the following are frightening: however, I am trepidatious of moving forward with my film without Dennis.  I’m fully aware of how difficult it will be, but put simply, it sucks.  I’m mad that I will miss all the cool stuff in life after I die. That sucks, too.  When people in my life die, I feel sad they they’re gonna miss all of what's to come.

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What is your calling, what does your heart and soul gravitate towards?

I do gravitate towards helping people.  I've been volunteering for many, many years, and it does my heart good to be able to help others and to know that I’ve contributed in some small way to make a difference in someone’s life.

How do you keep yourself inspired by life?

Aaaah, well, life itself is inspiring!  To be alive is inspiring!  People are inspiring! I have wonderful friends who inspire me daily by their selfless acts of generosity, health battles they’ve endured, their creativity.  And, trying new things is definitely inspiring; it can satisfy a curiosity and build a confidence that you may not ever know about if you don’t try it.  Granted, I don’t need to try EVERYthing, but what’ve I got to lose?

Have you ever hit “Rock Bottom , How did you recover, what helped you?    

This one’s easy.  ‘ My’ Rock Bottom came when was divorced 15 years ago.  Divorce changes your life in an instant.  Fear, rage, confusion, deep sadness, helplessness, identity issues…oh my gosh, so much! Not sure how I recovered. I spent 3 months sitting in my house drinking wine, smoking cigarettes, & not eating much.  A new girlfriend, Oprah and Tom Petty are a few of the humans that got me
through it. 

I’m a positive person by nature and I got so sick of my mood and of not feeling like myself. The healing process had to begin and so eventually I had to find the strength deep within myself to begin the process of pulling myself out. I believe that we don’t know how strong we really are until we are faced with something traumatic. Then the strength takes over as if it’s been stored away; it’s a thing of beauty, actually. My divorce has really taught me that I'm one tough cookie, and my inner strength does exist, that I’m smart enough to pay attention to it and use it.  Sometimes ya gotta go down, way down, and stay there for awhile, I get that. You need to give yourself the time to feel the depth of the hurt and pain.  But, then I was ready to begin again, and as hard as it was, I just had to start moving forward. 

What is the shadow side of you, that you try to hide, deny, suppress, OR maybe accept, and celebrate?

The shadow side of me is the part that was a wallflower in high school, that never went to college, that was a loser and a failure because I got divorced, that I felt like I never fit in, low self esteem.  You get the idea.

How does it kick your ass, teach you, or what is the disguised gift in it? 

By me letting it kick my ass.
To ignore it, because it’s silly!
Not disguised really, but the gift is the Shadow itself.  It challenges you to accept it, or to take a good look at it and decide if you want the shadow to still exist. Good or bad.

What in particular made you feel like being part of the Revelation Project was a good idea at this time in your life?

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In the past couple of years I went through some traumatic and sad events. The good news is that  some solid healing occurred, and in turn, made feel more like myself again.  Learning, looking inward, and trying new things. These are all important for me to heal and grow and ultimately to move forward.  Participating in The Revelation Project seemed like a natural progression as part of this healing journey!

About the shoot:

What was the conversation you were having with yourself, as you were approaching your photo shoot ? 

I was actually excited!  A little nervous about the unknowns, but really, I was actually looking forward to the experience.  It seemed like the exact right time to do it.

Was there anything in particular that made you feel more or less relaxed or open to the process?

Again, I think I was just in a good place in my life so I was pretty darn open to it. 

What was it like to be witnessed by your TRP Team?

Hmm, it was interesting.  A bit nervous in spots, but you three women were so open and accepting, that I became quite comfortable in no time. 

What was it like to be the center of attention with a group of women?

Ha, pretty great!  Hahaha.  There’s a time and a place where being the center of attention with a group of women is allowed, and this was one of them.  In other situations, I have just faded into the background and let the light shine on someone else but you all reminded me that this day was my time to be in the center so well, I was takin’ it! 

What was it like not to have to fight for attention with a group of women?

It was refreshing.  Again, you three women, you just made everything so easy breezy. I often wondered, 'Do they even know how remarkable and genuine they are?'

What was the edgiest, most uncomfortable part of the shoot for you?

The last in the series, with Dennis’s sport coat.   Wearing it without any other article of clothing or accessory, it became about me and the jacket.  Which was pretty emotionally heavy.    I really didn’t know what kind of reaction or emotion would appear, so it took me by surprise.  I felt happy with it on.  Wearing it made me feel close to him.  Then, all at once, it made me feel oh so sad. For a whole bunch of reasons. 

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What was coming up for you, and how did you shift yourself out the discomfort?

I think just giving in to the moment was the only way out of the discomfort.  You know, when I'm  in an uncomfortable situation I've just learned to be in it, experience the moment I'm in. Lean into the suck. If you try to avoid it, or go around it….well, you’ll just stay in that ugly/sad/awkward moment and never ever move forward. I'm learning that to get to the good stuff, you've got to first confront the shit you’re in. 

What’s the biggest lie you ever believed about yourself?

That I wasn’t capable of doing anything
That I would never be good at anything. 
That I was too shy.
Not smart enough (which, of course, manifests itself into just that, and creates low self-esteem and, well, then the cycle begins).

Do you still believe it? What do you believe now?

Now?  Good God, NO.  No, I don't still believe that. 
The thing is, I no longer feel that I HAVE to be good at anything.  So, I believe that I can do all kinds of things which is actually very liberating. There’s no pressure to HAVE to do anything

At what point in the shoot did you feel most beautiful and most connected to yourself?  Did you claim it?

The first part of the series, with my jeans and tank top, cuz that’s me. I’m more of myself in that attire. But, truthfully, once the shooting began, I felt beautiful all day.  I think it was the trust I put in all of you, and the chit-chat, and the love and warmth you all put forth the moment you walked in the door.  Maybe when a person is in the presence of all that, they become relaxed and natural, and their true self shines, and who doesn’t feel beautiful when that happens? 

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How did the music impact you during the shoot?

Aaaah, the music made me feel good, energized! 

Please describe in three words the way you felt before we shot:

Excited.  Curious.  Ready.

Three words for after:

Calm.  Confident.  Happy.

Three words for when you saw the results:

Wow.  Wow.  Wow.

After you left, but before you saw the results, did you have any thoughts about the experience?

Lordy, yes. I knew it was going to be a great experience, because I’d heard so many good things about it.  It exceeded those expectations.  The day of the shoot, after you all had left, and I was there in my space, alone, I was feeling SO many things!  Joy, calm, confidence, lonely, brave, on top of the world, grateful, and loved. For the next several days, this calmness and joy was still enveloping me.  This may be how I was feeling before I arrived, but it seems as though this trip, this shoot, brought it more to the forefront and made me even more aware and appreciative of it.  Wow.   

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What were some of the things you thought about on the drive home?

I was staying town for another day or two, so that wonderful inner-peace kind of feeling stayed with me. 

When you saw your images for the very first time what was your initial reaction?

I had just been thinking the day before, “I wonder when my album will be posted?” I was excited and nervous thinking, What if I don’t like the way I look, what about my hair/makeup, close-ups, etc.  Those questions are normal for most women, I think.  When I saw them I picked  them apart with a keen eye.  But, the more I looked at them, I began to see what Kim (the photographer) saw, and what the accompanying quotes said, and what the comments from strangers were which really opened my eyes. 

Please share about the feedback you received from those who saw your photographs:

All of the comments were quite wonderful, actually.

What was important for you to know from others about the impact your images had on them?

Maybe not so much ‘important’, but simply interesting that strangers, without knowing a thing about me, had the most lovely and insightful things to say and noticed certain things in the images or about me. I thought that was remarkable. The comments from people  I do know, well, they were very complimentary, and saying how ‘the real me’ was captured. Both friends and strangers said they were in awe of how much emotion came through the images. 

What are some words you would use to describe how those comments made you feel?

They made me feel so good; loved, confident, happy. I thought : people DO know the real me! I will also add that at times I also felt odd, judged, and unnerved.

Who was most difficult to have witness your images, and why?

    Um, no one.

Who did you intentionally NOT reveal your photos to, and why?

Ha, I’ll show them to anyone who wants to see them!

Did you learn anything new about yourself from your TRP experience?

Not new, but it showed me that I am consistent in my authenticity: that I am strong and brave and real; flaws and all.

What has been the lasting impact from your TRP experience?

Since my divorce, I’ve felt that women need each other in bigger ways. They need to offer each other a hand up and they need to know they are not alone. TRP exists for these reasons, and more. So, the impact, for me, is that there IS a great sisterhood available out there and all we need to keep spreading that message to each other. 

How will you use the photos moving forward: professionally, personally, as gifts?

Professionally, for sure! I’m making a film, and will probably use some for promo materials and/or a website. Personally?  Maybe pick a fave to frame.

What is your favorite song and why?

Well, picking one is impossible, actually. 

Here are a few: 

Nowhere to Run (Martha and the Vandellas). Because, it’s a killer all female group, Martha was super fierce, and basically, I can’t sit still when it’s on. My world is a happier place when I hear it.

Reflections (The Supremes). Again, incredibly talented all female group. The music, the voices, the words. Perfection.

True Colors (Cyndi Lauper). Because, none of us should be afraid to show our true colors.  

I see your true colors and that’s why I love you.

Ooooh, so many more!

What is your #1 Revelation you take away from The Revelation Project?

That it really is necessary to be true to yourself, and to be able to ‘receive’ the truths and love that is thrown in your direction…..

Amen Sister.  We Love you Tracey Bea. You Rocked it. XO