Transcript: Thanks, Alan. This is David Brower, and our special guest today is Kathy Tuccaro from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Right?
Kathy Tuccaro: That’s right.
David Brower: Did I guess right? Awesome.
Kathy Tuccaro: You’re good.
David Brower: Kathy is a mom, an author, a motivational speaker, and is a heavy equipment operator, driving the biggest Caterpillar I have ever seen in my life, anywhere, any time.
Kathy Tuccaro: And it’s great. It’s so great.
David Brower: What is that about?
Kathy Tuccaro: Well, you know, get this. I used to be a nurse for 13 years. Due to a lifetime of trauma and undealt issues, I ended up homeless for a whole whopping seven days. But during that seven days, I’m like, “Heck, no. This is not what’s going on. This is not going to happen.”
I turned it around. Within two years of being homeless, I ended up going to a career planning workshop, where they assess you with personality traits and aptitude. It worked out to be a heavy equipment operator. I just about fell off my chair, because number one, I’m a woman. Number two, I was 42 at the time. And number three, that’s a man’s job. I’ve never even looked at equipment. Are you kidding? My whole life was based on nursing. For me, it was a huge revelation, like OK, she’s wrong.
But it turned out she was right. She sent me to this program we have here in Edmonton called Women Building Futures where they get women into all the nontraditional trades, like construction, heavy equipment operator, journey woman, plumbing, electricity, and all that stuff.
David Brower: Nice.
Kathy Tuccaro: But the day I came in to fill out the paper work, Imperial Oil just happened to be there. They were offering for the first time a pilot project where they were paying $18,000 per woman to learn how to be a heavy equipment operator with the possibility of being hired up in the Northern Canadian oil [inaudible 00:02:21]. There was 170 women that applied, and they were only picking 16. I got picked.
David Brower: Wow.
Kathy Tuccaro: Out of the 16, they hired 11, and I got hired.
David Brower: Wow.
Kathy Tuccaro: When I went up there for the first time, this was four years ago, the picture on my book is the first day I’m beside the truck. I hadn’t even been inside the cab yet.
David Brower: Nice.
Kathy Tuccaro: I’m standing beside there, and I literally had tears in my eyes, because I was thinking that two years ago prior to that, I was homeless, and look where I am today. Holy cow.
David Brower: Holy cow.
Kathy Tuccaro: I’m looking up at this truck, and I’m thinking, “Oh my goodness. I didn’t even know these things existed. They’re so big. It’s the size of a house.” That’s how that happened.
David Brower: I mean, this is audio, folks. You got to check out the picture of this truck. It’s a water truck. Is that right?
Kathy Tuccaro: No, I do drive a water truck, which is 208,000 liters of water. In the States, it’d be 52,000 gallons, which is a lot.
David Brower: Wow, that’s a lot.
Kathy Tuccaro: But the truck that I drive is technically 385 tons, which works out to be 345 metric tons. But it holds up to 419 tons of dirt. It’s massive.
David Brower: That is way massive.
Kathy Tuccaro: Its tires are twice my size.
David Brower: Oh my gosh.
Kathy Tuccaro: It’s unbelievable. You have to see it.
David Brower: Yeah, absolutely right. Absolutely right. Let’s get back to the story. That’s a good story by itself, but the story that helped you turn your life around so many times and about the book that came out, what, last spring, right?
Kathy Tuccaro: Actually, no. It finally got released, it was delayed, at the end of August.
David Brower: OK, nice.
Kathy Tuccaro: My official book launch is on December 6th here in Edmonton. We’re having a big, big thing.
David Brower: Good. Good. This is a good time then.
Kathy Tuccaro: It’s perfect.
David Brower: The book is called Dream Big by Kathy Tuccaro, Overcoming a Lifetime of Trauma, Abuse, and Dreams That Led to Success.
Kathy Tuccaro: Yep.
David Brower: I got to tell you, from age four to 40, you lived about 57 lifetimes.
Kathy Tuccaro: Yeah, you could say that.
David Brower: Oh my gosh.
Kathy Tuccaro: You could say that.
David Brower: Oh my gosh.
Kathy Tuccaro: The fact that I’m alive is a miracle in itself. It truly is.
David Brower: Yeah, I agree. Let’s start from there and share that story however you wish, because it’s terrifying, and it’s inspiring, all in the same breath.
Kathy Tuccaro: OK. It started with a lot of child sexual abuse, and I was in a foster home. We had a lot of domestic family violence growing up as a child. My only safe place that I could find was in a dog house. It was really bad, very, very bad, very traumatic.
Then growing up at 14, I was raped by my first boyfriend and then molested again at 15 by the same foster family that I had gone back to to visit. Then 18, I started modeling. I ended up being date raped, drugged and raped by a photographer down in Miami after a photo session. Then at 19, I was ganged raped in Montreal getting out of a cab. Not only that, this I talk about a little bit in the book, but the neighbors had found me in behind the alley. They took me to their apartment, and they proceeded to rape me.
David Brower: Oh no.
Kathy Tuccaro: The four guys that attacked me initially had taken all my money, and my keys, my purse, everything. I had nothing to get into my apartment. When I finally called the landlord, instead of calling the police … I didn’t even think of that, but I just wanted to go home. The landlord proceeded to rape me on top of that. He didn’t want me to become frigid.
David Brower: Oh my God.
Kathy Tuccaro: I ended up on a bridge and wanting to commit suicide. It was really tough for me. That chapter’s called Eye of the Hurricane, because that’s exactly what it was.
David Brower: Exactly what it was.
Kathy Tuccaro: Yeah, so then I ended up finding the hope and inspiration to move across Canada from Montreal to Jasper and started over. I got married. That didn’t work out. I ended up getting divorced, but I started going to school, and I got my nursing career, which was great. But the problem was, was that I never dealt with any of my issues. I just pretended that it didn’t happen.
David Brower: Gotcha.
Kathy Tuccaro: You bury it. You put on a mask and say everything is OK, when in reality, you’re so hurt inside. But nursing gave me the perfect opportunity to take care of other people’s problems.
David Brower: Yeah, my wife’s a nurse. My wife’s a nurse. I totally get that.
Kathy Tuccaro: It’s [inaudible 00:06:56].
David Brower: Yeah, you transform your giving to others so you don’t have to deal with your own so much, right?
Kathy Tuccaro: Yeah, and that’s exactly what I did. I was really good at it. Then I just proceeded into very violent domestic violence relationships for seven years. It was so bad that I was living in a women’s shelter and still working as a nurse at the hospital, because I couldn’t figure it out. I needed a paycheck too, because I was trying to get out. But it was really, really bad until finally, at the age of 40, I couldn’t pretend anymore.
I showed up to work one day. I’m looking at my nursing sheet, and I couldn’t read it. I could not read it, and I knew I was done. That was the start of the healing process where I was able to finally come to terms with what went on. I had to go to treatment. When I say treatment, it’s not … I used to drink quite a bit. It’s not just for the alcohol, but it’s everything that was underneath that I didn’t deal with. The alcohol was just a superficial masking the symptoms.
I ended up going to a year-long women’s program. It’s faith based. It was Christian, where you lived there for a year. You had 24-hour treatment. You had counseling. You had all this stuff where you learned about boundaries, codependency, anger management, all this stuff, self esteem, things that I had no idea.
David Brower: Wow.
Kathy Tuccaro: It was that that really, really transformed my life. I was able to get back on the wagon, so to speak. I have five-and-a-half years sober. It took me three tries in that place. I started in 2009, and at the time, it was only a nine-month program. Yes, I had dealt with all my sexual abuse. They bring you through a very intense sexual abuse recovery group, where it’s just a small group of women and four counselors. For 12 weeks, that’s all you do. It’s very intense, but I needed that.
Then after nine months, I left, because you had to go back to work or go to school. I just went straight back to work and thought I was OK, because I talked about it. But I had so many layers that were so deep and buried that I relapsed within two weeks. I was drinking, and I couldn’t understand why. It took me a total of two years that I went back. I went back three times there. I went nine months, and then five months, and then I finally finished the whole year the third time.
David Brower: Nice.
Kathy Tuccaro: That’s in 2013 when I finished.
David Brower: What’s remarkable about that, without knowing the circumstances or the specifics, is that each time, they welcomed you back.
Kathy Tuccaro: Absolutely, any time. You can go as much as you like. They’ll never say no. It’s a wonderful, wonderful program. It’s through the Hope Mission. They have a men’s program. They have a women’s program. They have a youth program.
David Brower: My gosh.
Kathy Tuccaro: They have a program for after-school kids that have dysfunctional families. The kids go there, and they learn sports. It’s called Kids in Action. I volunteer there regularly with the kids. You run a 5K race every year. They have farms. It’s just incredible. I love the Hope Mission. They’re amazing. Yeah, they do a lot for the community.
David Brower: One of the things I’ve talked about with people on various podcasts that I’ve done, emotional, self improvement kinds of things, always seems to come up with a conversation about self esteem and how people feel it’s sometimes whatever your self esteem is, is the kind of people that you’re attracted to.
Kathy Tuccaro: Absolutely.
David Brower: If your self esteem is in the gutter, then guess what? I’m going to go hang out in the gutter for a while. Was that your experience?
Kathy Tuccaro: Yeah, absolutely. It’s funny, I just gave a workshop at Diverse Family Violence Conference, where it was all social workers and educators. I did a thing with them about where they’re at with their self esteem. I call it the negative core belief. I said, “Take away your education. Take away your titles that you carry around. Take away your identity. What do you really feel on a daily basis about yourself?”
I had them write it on a piece of paper and put it in a box. I just randomly, because it was all anonymous, out of 155 people, I read about maybe 10 of them. I read them out loud to the crowd. It was unbelievable the things that they were writing about themselves. I’m thinking, “Wow, it’s not just people that are in recovery. It’s every day people.” Some of the things that I read were horrible, wow. But yet, they walk around like I did with that mask, that you pretend that you’re OK, but you’re really not.
David Brower: For you to create pretty much instantaneously a safe environment where they could share … they’ve obviously been thinking about that for a while, to be able to write that so promptly.
Kathy Tuccaro: Yeah, it was impressive.
David Brower: It is.
Kathy Tuccaro: I was actually giving a repeat session in the afternoon, and there was a line-up of people from my second session, because I do real work with people. I think that’s what they look for. They don’t want the superficial crap or these workshops where you sleep through it. I’m not like that. I had line-ups for the second night, people reserving seats. I had people in the hall. I had people sitting down. It was like wow. There’s clearly a need here.
David Brower: Oh my gosh.
Kathy Tuccaro: I couldn’t believe it.
David Brower: That’s amazing.
Kathy Tuccaro: Yeah, now I know what to work with.
David Brower: Yeah, now you can write a second book about self esteem.
Kathy Tuccaro: Yeah. I’m going to be doing a workbook and putting that on my website, a workbook.
David Brower: How fascinating.
Kathy Tuccaro: A simple workbook for people to look at.
David Brower: That’s a great idea. More and more, it seems like, all of us at some level, as you just stated, all of us at some level are masking things, hiding behind things, putting on the good face, all that bad stuff. If we have an opportunity and a resource, if you will, to be able to reach out anonymously and work on our stuff until we get enough self esteem to actually admit it and work with somebody like you, man, that would change some lives.
Kathy Tuccaro: You know, you just hit the nail on the head by the two words you just said, admit it. That’s the biggest problem. People will not admit it that they have, that they feel that way. Especially in the workplace, you got to put on this image. Then the society pressure and all this crap. I call it superficial bull crap. It’s so unreal.
Today, the way I am, it doesn’t matter. If I’m having a bad day, OK, I’m having a day. If I’m not feeling good about myself, I say it. But I don’t hide. I don’t pretend anymore that everything is OK. That is the difference. I’m able to be honest with what I’m feeling when I’m feeling it.
David Brower: That gives people an opportunity to feed that back to you, because your credibility is instantaneous.
Kathy Tuccaro: Yes, I guess. Yeah, I hadn’t thought about it like that. Yeah, you’re right.
David Brower: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think people appreciate, because being authentic is so rare. People are magnets to people who can be authentic, and in some way, shape, or form, feel that they’re going to help you. At least that’s my impression, and I think that’s why you had such big lines, because people were spreading word of mouth, “Man, if you don’t go see Kathy, you’re screwed up.”
Kathy Tuccaro: People were leaving their assigned workshops to come to mine. I couldn’t believe it.
David Brower: I love that, absolutely love that. Wow.
Kathy Tuccaro: So did I. But you know, you don’t realize sometimes the effect you have on people. This was the first time I had actually took a risk this big, because usually, I work with people in recovery and in shelters. They’re readily willing to admit they got a problem. To work with people from the other side of the spectrum, I’d never done that before. I took a risk. I said, “You know what? Take away their titles. They’re still people. They still got hurts and pains, and they’re just not showing it. We’re going to try this. We’re going to do this.” Boy, did it work.
David Brower: What a payoff for you and them. What a payoff. Are you finding yourself being attracted to do more and more of that kind of work?
Kathy Tuccaro: Absolutely. Absolutely. Driving this truck is only a steppingstone. It financed my book. It financed everything that I’m doing, because on my 10 days, I do a lot of travel. Until I actually make it on TV and do different things, I’ll still be driving the truck, because it’s a good job.
David Brower: For sure.
Kathy Tuccaro: I love it, but pretty soon, it’s going to take over too much room to stop me from where I really want to do.
David Brower: I am going to put words in your mouth. You want to be a national speaker who’s well paid to be able to travel around and share your message, day in, day out, here I am, let’s go.
Kathy Tuccaro: Yeah.
David Brower: Fair?
Kathy Tuccaro: But initially, more so … it’s not so much yes, that’s great, but my main goal is to reach the places that nobody goes to.
David Brower: There you go.
Kathy Tuccaro: Everybody goes to conferences. Everybody goes there. What I do, I go up in Northern Canada to the women’s shelters and the schools that don’t have the resources. I go to reservations. Now I started going internationally, and I go regularly to down in Grenada and Barbados.
I’m actually going to be in Barbados in January 29th to February 5th. I’m speaking in a women’s prison. I’m speaking at a girls’ juvenile detention center. I’m at the women’s shelter. I’m giving classes there. And I’m at the family violence center.
David Brower: Brilliant. Brilliant. Screw the conferences. You’re doing the work.
Kathy Tuccaro: It is, and with the proceeds of the book, I fully intend on building a women’s shelter down in Grenada and an orphanage, because it’s so lacking. Seven out of the eight women in that shelter can’t even read. It blew my mind. I’m like, “Oh my goodness.” There’s so much sexual abuse going on.
David Brower: Let’s talk about your book and how people can get that. It’s Dream Big, Overcoming a Lifetime of Trauma and Abuse and Dreams That Led to Success. You’re having your big took unveiling, if you will, in December, right?
Kathy Tuccaro: Yeah, you bet, on Wednesday, December 6th. It’s available on Amazon, in Barnes and Nobles, and here in Canada in Chapters. It also is available on my website, if you want to buy it from there. The workbook is in the making to follow this one here.
David Brower: Good. What’s your website?
Kathy Tuccaro: www.kathytuccaro, which is K-A-T-H-Y, Tuccaro, T-U-C-C-A-R-O.com.
David Brower: Easy enough. Folks, I want to encourage you-
Kathy Tuccaro: There’s also YouTube. I have a few videos on YouTube under my name.
David Brower: You know, great minds, that’s what I’m saying, because I just watched one of your eight-minute videos on YouTube. It was so captivating. It’s called Dream Big, Kathy’s Story. In a nutshell, it takes you through the book, chapter by chapter, I believe.
Kathy Tuccaro: Yeah, it does.
David Brower: Visually shares your words, your story, your struggle, your success. The song Oceans by Hillsong United, if you’ve never heard that before, I have 1,000 times, it’s an incredible song. It captures the video so beautifully. You have to take the time-
Kathy Tuccaro: Could I tell you a quick story on that?
David Brower: Yeah.
Kathy Tuccaro: The video’s eight minutes long, and I couldn’t find a song that lasted eight minutes. I’m just wondering and wondering, so three nights in a row, I wake up at 3:00 in the morning. I’m hearing this music loud and clear. I asked my husband, I said, “Do you hear that song?” He said, “There’s no music. Go back to bed.” I’m like, “No, can you hear this song?”
Three nights in a row, the same song. I get up, and it turns out … I had to find it, because it was bugging me. It turns out it was Oceans, eight minutes long, exactly what I needed for my video. How cool is that?
David Brower: You got a God thing going on, don’t you?
Kathy Tuccaro: Yes, I do.
David Brower: Yes, you do. Well, God bless you for what you do, and what you share, and the places you go to touch so many lives in so many ways. Your laughter is contagious, as is your authenticity. Congratulations on where you are and where you’re going.
Kathy Tuccaro: Thank you so much.
David Brower: You bet. Our guest has been Kathy Tuccaro. Again, it’s K-A-T-H-Y T-U-C-C-A-R-O.com. Check out her book, Big Dreams. There’s a big truck on the cover. You can’t miss it.
Kathy Tuccaro: You can’t miss it. Thank you very much for having me.
David Brower: You bet, Kathy. I enjoyed it. Take care.
Kathy Tuccaro: OK, bye-bye.
Alan: Until next time, don’t forget to download your free audiobook at Audibletrial.com/your20minutepodcast. That’s Audibletrial.com/your20minutepodcast for your free audiobook. Thanks for listening to Your 20 Minute Podcast with David Brower.
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