Let me start out by saying that I never have liked to be called a “politician.” I have always preferred the term “public servant.” Whatever you want to call it the truth is that I come by it honestly. As a 6th generation Floridian, I was at least the 4th generation to serve our state in some capacity. After 8 years in the Florida House of Representatives, term limits sent me on my way, but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel quite yet. Even after a tough statewide campaign in 2010, I’m still not sure I am ready to throw it in. In all honesty, I am truly struggling with how to “create meaning in my post political life.” I am hoping that this exercise will help.
So I started out by reading Tom Allen’s post about his “Blissful Recovery” and found myself thinking… that should be me. Consider the following: I am writing this from one of the most beautiful places in the world, Dog Island Florida where I am celebrating 11 years of marriage to a wonderful, smart and supportive husband who I love very much. We have a happy healthy 8 year old son who is an all around great kid and amazing superstar drummer even though he was never expected to make it out of the hospital after his premature birth at 22 weeks weighing just over a pound. I had the privilege of serving 8 great years in the legislature, took a gamble and ran statewide. Anyone watching will tell you it was a smart, scrappy campaign, but it was 2010…I was a Democrat… in Florida. We lost, but ran a good campaign, maintained civility in the process, raised over $ 2 million and got almost 2 million votes… no regrets.
Anyone who is looking at my life from outside would say that my life is blissful, or that I am pretty ungrateful if I claim otherwise. By all accounts, I am living the life… I am a “stay-at-home mom” which means I finally have time to do all those things I have put off.
Here I sit on a remote barrier island on a gorgeous day surrounded by the people that I love… WHY AM I NOT BLISSFUL?!?
For starters, it is past the halfway point of the legislative session and I am watching from afar as all of the things I care about are dismantled. I run into public employees and police officers at the grocery store who are terrified about changes in their pensions. I run into children’s advocates at church who are dismayed about savage cuts to children’s services, and every day at my son’s elementary school I am stopped in the halls by a teacher or a parent with grave concerns about what is really happening and how it is going to affect our kids.
I found some solace in Lisa Borders’ post and tried to take to heart her realization that we don’t have to be players on the field to impact the outcomes. As much as we laugh about the lack of normalcy amongst “our types” and our addiction to crowds and the sound of our own voices and the applause that follows, in all seriousness we entered this arena because we care about our communities, our states and our nation, and we are committed to be the dynamic force of change that we want to see. Let’s face it – we all believe that it is our responsibility to leave this place better than we found it and ultimately that is why we are here… The other stuff is the icing on top.
So I hope that Tom Allen is right that while some of us may be recovering from our losses, that none of us are recovering from politics/public service. And I hope that someone out there can help me make the transition… stay tuned!