Earlier in this decade I ran for public office. Now, if you really want to know what you are made of, run for public office. I went through some things during that process, you really can’t imagine, until you put yourself in that vulnerable of a position!
Now, I had been asked the previous couple of elections to run, but my kids were young and I didn’t think I had the experience. A little background for you… All I had done previously was: serve as a trustee on the Uintah County Library Board for a few years, had been a writer and editor for the Vernal Express in 1994-5, had an interview show on V-TV, Channel 2 in Vernal in 1997, worked for KVEL/KLCY radio stations and served on the Uintah County Public Lands Committee.
Tangent: How the UCPLC gig happened is cool! One day I got a call from then Commissioner Herb Snyder, asking me to serve on the UCPLC. I told him, “I don’t know anything about public lands.” He said, “We know you will have the best interests of the county at heart. Will you do it?” I said I would but had know idea what it would entail nor where it would take me, down the road.
At the time, I was getting up at 4am to be at the radio station before 5 to gather, write and edit news stories and items of interest to chat about for 4 hours every weekday. (I just realized this is not the direction I meant to go, but perhaps you would like a bit of background to the story…)
Then I was live on the air for 4 hours on 2 stations. Tricky but doable. Then I wrote some more stories and then I went out into the business community to sell advertising. When my kids got home from school I would work on being home and sometimes made it! By 6 or 6:30 I was in class at the University of Utah branch campus until 8:30 – 9pm and then home to do homework. Some days I snuck math tutoring in. Once a month I had a library board meeting and 1 or more times a week the public lands committee met. I occasionally nodded off in UCPLC meetings, not because they weren’t riveting or important, but because I could not stay awake any longer!
Between gathering news and sitting through all kinds of community and government meetings and serving on seom of them, by 2002 I felt ready to take on running for office. I can share some of that in another blog if you like, because it was a very good experience for me. I stopped dating for about a year, so my being a single mom would not be an issue and made some other adjustments to my life. Running for office shoved me right out of my comfort zone, big time and I was able to stand in my power and speak my truth for months in front of all kinds of people!
Two things stand out, in my mind tonight as I write this. One is, 10 days before the election I got fired. The first thing out of the station owner’s mouth was, “I am not firing you because you are a democrat.”
I’ll just leave that one.
When he fired me, I was wearing a black linen sheath dress with white satin embroidered dots, white stockings, black dressy pumps and my mother’s pearls. Classy! I mention this because I was so pissed when I left, I had to blow off steam. I drove straight to the gym where I worked out. It was a real gym, not a spa kind of gym, no foofoo nothing in there. I went straight to the upper body work out machines and started doing a work out in the above mentioned outfit.
About 15-20 minutes into this, I think I caught sight of myself in a mirror or something and saw the ridiculousness of the situation! I hied myself right out the door, backed my truck out of the parking lot and wondered what to do. Then it hit me.
I didn’t have anywhere I had to be! I didn’t have a job. My kids were in school and daycare. I could do whatever I wanted for the rest of the day! In fact, now that I no longer had a job, I could campaign full time!!! Ha! In your face, to anyone who thought, firing me would make me drop out of the race!
It was great! I filed for unempoyment, which I had to fight for and finally got, but I could visit every coffee shop, Chamber of Commerce meeting, crash Rotary meetings, (actually got asked to speak to them three times in the campaign and my opponent only got invite once!) I visited people in the Ute Tribe and government entities and every place I could just show up to! It was great fun and I learned a lot about people’s concerns. I just encouraged people to vote.
So that was one thing that happened. The other was that the morning of the election, I got up early and felt like writing an email to friends and family about how I felt that morning. I looked back over the bulk of the year and felt very good about how I had done. I respected how I had handled the campaign with honor and my integrity was still intact. And all things considered, that felt very good.
Originally, I thought I would be attacked for being a single mom, but my integrity got pushed and it didn’t budge and when they couldn’t make me quit any other way, they took away my ability to support my kids and myself and it didn’t slow me down for even one hour! I took that crumby life experience of getting fired and turned it into a powerful opportunity to meet the public and finish strong and proud!
Memories of my life are coming up tonight due to conversations with 3 different friends today. I’m thinking about when I really felt good about myself and why. Then I’m going to hold those feelings and create more strength in where I am now in life. I’ll let you know how it works for me!