I moved to Michigan 30 years ago this week. I had a Master’s Degree tucked under my arm, a job at my (still) beloved summer camp waiting for me (obviously a year round position) and was in love. I felt like it was a dream come true, in so many ways. I felt like I had a chance to make a difference in people’s lives and in the world, while living in an incredibly beautiful place, far from the wild pace of city life.
While I had done some volunteering previously for political campaigns, I had the opportunity to meet then MI Senator Carl Levin at a meet and greet at a local restaurant. I had previously spoken to a woman in his D..C. office when I was advocating for a bill. When I met him, and said how much I appreciated her - he paused and said how much he appreciated me saying that, and how important she was to his work.
Reminder: Elected officials staff are people, too, doing a job - no matter how old or young - and your elected official relies on them.
I volunteered for many candidates before moving to Vegas - did the hustle with Governor Jennifer Granholm at her 3rd Inaugural party- as she traveled East to West and North to fulfill her promises of inclusivity, I talked regularly with Senator Debbie Stabenow on issues of importance to both of us and the whole country, including advocating for funding for services and research on aging issues and Alzheimer’s disease. One of her local staff people educated me on how to approach officials, which form of contact worked best. I learned to say thank you a lot.
In February of 2017, I was asked to organize an event for newly announced candidate for Governor Gretchen Whitmer. I liked her - she was a former prosecutor and a former State Legislator. She had gained my notice and respect when she and other women legislators advocated on behalf of women’s and family healthcare and when speaking, attempts were made to ban them from speaking on the floor of the Legislature.
I was honored to be asked, and it was an easy “YES!” for me to say I’d organize an event. She was calling these “Walk for Whitmer” It was a brisk and very chilly morning on the shores of Lake Superior, but we had a good crowd and blue skies for our event!
Long story short - today I woke up early, not sure why- until I realized what time it was in Lansing, MI. But from my couch in Las Vegas on New Years morning 2019, I watched Gretchen Whitmer get sworn in as the 49th Governor of Michigan.
I’d also walked the streets of Las Vegas this Fall to help my favorite candidates and knocked on doors to get out the vote in the midterms. I was thrilled on election night to see an early win for Senator elect Jacky Rosen.
Many of us may have made New Year’s resolutions, built on what we consider our failings of the past. Maybe they will be made on aspirations.and hopes for the future.
What is the most important goal you have for 2019?
Will you forgive yourself when it doesn’t work out?
you persevere against all odds? Will you be willing to ask for help to get there?
How will you celebrate, large and small with every little victory?
What can you let go to achieve these goals?
What dream do you see that you had a part of creating and celebrate with coffee on your couch in 2020?