It’s been about six months since my last post and a lot of reasons compelled me to stop writing for a while. Others are bringing me back. Here’s the story. And for those of us drowning in horror stories of children and mothers separated and voting rights being stripped — may it bring you company if not comfort.
In January of 2018, I decided to run for office. Board of Education, to be exact, a position elected every four years in my county. It was a decision I had mulled for some time and one that people suggested I step into. Deciding officially somehow felt anticlimactic in fact after months of considering it. I texted my husband when I had “officially” decided — and received warm words of encouragement in return. I told friends and family who immediately told me they were proud and happy I was stepping up. I was — and am — glad too. Honestly, there was something that felt natural about stepping into that role.
The campaign went very well. I had great friends and advisors (and really the advisors were friends — all the better!) who helped me set up a structure, design walk pieces (I know what those are now!), cut walk lists (yup, those too), and canvass (which I don’t hate as much as I thought I would). Friends and family from Morgantown, Vermont, Boston, Seattle, and Texas sent donations, which I put to good use.
And I won. And quite handily too, with over 7,000 votes (over 2,000 more than my next closest opponent). Winning was thrilling and was made all the better by other friends winning their primaries (go Danielle, Evan, and Kendra!). They say you don’t always win
your first race, and I did. I was a strong candidate. A professor of education with two adorable kids (and a pretty handsome husband) with a PhD in child development. Serving on the Board of Education makes sense. And, indeed, I am excited to serve.
So that’s the part about running for office. And I now find myself missing it. Campaigning is hard work. Long hours, time away from family (that part, less fun), pressures from various constituencies. Advice. Most of it good, but lots of advice. Great conversations with friends and voters.
I realize now that it also was a distraction. (TRIGGER WARNING FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO CAN’T HANDLE THE BAD NEWS — THIS IS A LOT OF IT!) I find myself bogged down by wave upon wave of anxiety-producing news. Sessions rolling back amnesty protections for victims of domestic violence and threats from gangs. Children ripped from their mother’s arms at our borders. Trump’s refusal to listen to scientists, whose daily jobs are to seek out objective reality in a systematic way (a pursuit I am engaged in as well). The Supreme Court letting a post card stand between you and your vote. Refusing to defend provisions of the ACA. And that’s basically just the last week.
(Ok, done with that, welcome back.)
I am tired of this bullshit. Part of me is scared. And there is just so much to fight against — or for, depending on how you look at it. Where to start? Who to help? How?
So tonight I gardened. Some people like to garden. I am not one of those people. I have a garden. It grows. That’s usually my philosophy. But tonight, an hour in the garden, turning disorder and mess into a green sanctuary, and with family at my side, brought a moment of peace and distraction.
We all need those moments of peace and distraction. We also need to find our next campaign. Yes, I will write that letter to the editor about the immigration policy separating parents from children; make an agenda for my next community meeting; kiss my girls and tuck them in.
I also have an amazing extended family in my progressive community in Morgantown. These people keep me encouraged, upbeat, and hopeful. Because I am not alone in this fight. (Plus, they are super fun, funny, sweet – and play as hard as they work.)
But I still need my campaign. Focused action and dedication around a cause. November is close and I know I will keep helping my friends win elections. I will be sworn on to the Board of Education in July. There is nothing like the focus of a big goal with a firm deadline. For me, I find some measure of peace in working toward a better vision of tomorrow.
Otherwise, the weeds will grow back tomorrow.