|Tracy Swan looks over her Bucket List with trusted sidekick, Milo.|
Imagine waking up one morning and not recognizing the person you’ve become. Imagine realizing the downward spiral that resulted from a life-changing event was more of a downward plunge.
And you loved it so much, you want to do it again and again.
For Tracy Swan of Oxford, the sudden end of her 24-year marriage last spring forced her to rebuild her life, so she took a leave of absence from her job as a Grade Two teacher, and laced up a pair of running shoes.
“I did some running two summers ago and I enjoyed it but I got out of it,” she says. “So last April, I decided to try it again. It was a great way to clear my mind. I put my headphones in and I think of nothing but my breathing.”
Two months later, she not only completed the Oxford Strawberry Festival 5K with her older daughter, Maddy, she placed first in her age group. That inspired her to create a Bucket List of things she wants to accomplish so a month later, when Maddy said didn’t know what she wanted for her 23rd birthday, her mother asked, “Want to jump out of a plane?”
Tracy loved her skydiving experience so much, she wants to do the required number of tandem jumps in order to one day leap out of a plane by herself.
No one is more surprised by this than Tracy. Prior to last spring, Tracy says she was not a risk-taker, but now describes herself as adventurous and open.
“I don’t know if I ever knew this person,” she says with a laugh, explaining that she was married and expecting her first child when she graduated from teachers’ college in 1993. “I just went from my parents’ home to my married home and I don’t think I ever embraced the person I am right now. When I looked at myself at 46 and wondered what I’d done that really stands out, other than having my kids, I couldn’t name anything.”
Her new motto is simple: Eat the cake. Buy the shoes. Life is short.
So why not jump out of a plane?
“I think too much of myself to sit and wallow in self-pity, I guess,” Tracy says of how she chose to respond to the end of her marriage. “It’s part of my personality to be positive, and it’s part of my job as a Grade Two teacher to be happy. I had my two daughters watching my every move and seeing how I would respond.”
Maddy and her younger sister, Regan, both live in Halifax and Tracy is grateful they have their own lives of work and school. She spent a lot of time visiting them as, back home in Oxford, she adjusted to living alone, paying the bills and taking care of the house.
“I want to be able to survive on my own, and now I know I can,” says Tracy, who returned to her classroom earlier this month. “I hope watching what I’ve done will help my daughters become stronger women. I want to show them a woman can be independent and her own person even when in a relationship.”