As I reflect on the past year, I realize that I went from someone who watches TV to someone who appeared on TV. Before this year, I casually volunteered when it didn’t interfere too much with my time. Now I actively volunteer whenever I get the chance. In a sense, activism has become my self care.
It began with the Women’s March. I attended the local march here in Raleigh North Carolina. It was whim. I kinda wanted to go, so when a friend was also interested, I decided to go. I think we decided to go maybe two days before the event. It was mostly curiosity. What I left with that foggy day was hope.
I left with a renewed view of the world. A realization that all was not lost, and my desire to make the world a better place for my child and others was a shared goal with thousands if not millions of people across the country. I just needed to do my small part.
Thus when a robo-call came out to gather those interested in organizing a precinct, I showed up at a meeting. I learned a valuable lesson, sometimes all it takes is showing up. It took more than one meeting, but eventually my precinct became fully organized with me as the chair. Again all l I really did was show up.
I also learned of a pending educational crisis in my state in March. There is nothing on earth to me more important than the quality of my child’s education. I kept up the simple concept of just show up. I ended up a postcard party. We sent postcards to our senators to try and get a bill called HB 13 out of committee. The bill wasn’t perfect, but it was much better than the unfunded mandate originally proposed.
This wonderful group of local PTA mom’s later organized a rally. When not a lot of people seemed to volunteering to speak, I decided to speak up. I knew the drill, make it personal, so I just stood up there and talked about my fears for my son if HB 13 didn’t pass. It was nerve racking, and scary, but fulfilling. I did a good enough job, that I was asked to speak again for a bunch of teachers who were giving a press conference weeks later.
The experience was eye opening. I discovered that a personal story can make a difference. I was able to connect to new people who also were autism moms. It gave me a sense of belonging even if it was over social media. I also learned that despite passion, some battles are lost. You get up and try again.
I’m still fighting for public education in North Carolina. I’m still speaking and organizing. I’m still trying, because the struggle is important. All I need now is more people to show up.
I went to lots of meetings this year. I actively helped out in a minor municipal election. I lobbied my legislature for a promise to fund our music, art, and P.E. I listened to other wonderful speakers on public education and cheered them on. I was even interviewed on local TV to try and bring awareness to the class size issue. I showed up.
So in the new year, if you’re sitting on the sidelines, just remember all you have to do is show up. If you live in North Carolina join us for the Rally to End Class Size Chaos. You don’t have to do much, just show up!
There is no better feeling than knowing you’re helping your child. It is a very special type of self care. Knowing that just by showing up, you can make a difference in the life of your child or another, is better than any pedicure or spa day. So join me in a bit of self care and show up.