…me, and I’ll make you happy.
This current political race is reminding me of my childhood one.
Reflecting back on my campaign message from the 7th Grade Presidential Election speech, I kinda cringe at how juvenile I sounded.
Please vote for me, and I’ll make you happy?
How cute of me to assume I knew what would make my fellow peers happy. That somehow I had the answers.
And I’m all about politesse, but pleading for votes seems a bit desperate.
But I’ll cut myself a bit of slack, since I was, after all, a juvenile.
I still can’t believe I ran for ASB President at Kopachuck Middle School in 1997.
I mean, I was definitely not popular.
My best friends up until that year were Tiffany and Hasa, two horses I took care of on my grandparents’ farm.
These equine pals broke my social skills.
As a super shy and sensitive girl, I would run as fast as possible off the school bus to my grandparents’ farm to find refuge in the fields.
Even though my family didn’t have much money, I was privileged to have grandparents’ with land and people who didn’t want to take care of their own horses anymore.
So I did.
Or rather, Tiffany and Hasa took care of me.
They gave me purpose. I fed, cleaned and cared for them daily. I mucked the barn, polished the tack, mended the fences.
And the reward for all this work? Adventures in my own wonderland.
I’d saddle ‘em up and blaze wooded trails, swim in the sound, journey along roads where cars were minimal.
I remember sneaking on the Kopachuck Middle School racetrack and galloping like we were at the Derby.
I felt total freedom having their backs.
I reigned over this realm with empowerment and curiosity and intimacy to my natural environment like Artemis, far away from the awkward group socializing that I found boring and fake.
Speaking of boring and fake, I entered a 4-H show once. It. Was. Awful. Why would I want to be around a bunch of show-offs when I could explore the woods?
So that was my one and only not-so-best in show and I was happy returning to my deeper connections in the forest.
And then, in 1997, my grandparents’ decided to move from the farm.
I lost Tiffany and Hasa as a result.
My hardworking young parents’ couldn’t afford the expenses to board two horses at a stable in Gig Harbor, so Tiffany and Hasa returned to their owners.
And I accepted it was probably my time to learn other human skills. Like… socializing.
(Note: I did have some incredible friends through various periods of my childhood, this particular stage I was awkward and didn't know where I fit in).
So, there I was, horseless at Kopachuck Middle School in 1997.
What else was I to do? Other than…run for ASB President?
Now that I didn’t have my horses’ backs, I decided to have my entire Middle Schools’.
I recruited my only friends at the time, Melissa and Jean, to help with my campaign.
My longterm plan: make everyone happy by providing a healthy and beautiful and vibrant and natural environment, inspired by my horse trail blazing days.
My immediate plan: provide healthier snacks in the vending machines.
I know my motivation for change came from home.
I was raised with a junk food pantry where gushers and ding-dongs and easy cheese were abundant. So my desire for healthy food options came from my loud contrarian bone located somewhere deep inside me. Knowing there could be a healthier way of living.
And my older brother Robby helped shape both my shyness and my contrarian bone because he was such a bully when we were younger. His unpredictable violent tendencies both scared and ignited me to respond with righteous indignation. (Note: Rob has evolved into a fierce yet gentle papa bear.)
So I developed a strong distaste for junk food and meanness and a strong desire for healthy food and justice against such emotionally reckless behavior.
And since I no longer had my horses as a foundation, and home wasn’t too stable either, I suddenly poured my purpose into Middle School politics.
I began to wonder if my brother and other bullies were simply too Oreo’d and Coke’d out to have their wits about them. So I assumed responsibility to provide better food for thought by running for ASB President.
All this hope burning from my contrarian bone, beneath my insecurities and shyness, as my fire to forge on to Election Day.
I’ll never forget that feeling as I stood in front of my entire Middle School.
Dressed as a hippie, I began to sing my speech to the melody of “Blowing in the Wind”: 'The answer my friends, is voting for me. The answer is getting real healthy'…
DUH. DUN. DUUUUUUUUUNNNNN.
Out walks my opponent: Brian Dower.
Brian Dower was the epitome of all things "masculine". He was my first crush ever in kindergarten because he was so confident and present and charming.
And now, here he was, marching out in his camouflage army shorts, a white tank top, and aviator sunglasses.
With the Top Gun theme song on.
Brian began pumping his fist in the air chanting: DOWER! POWER!
Then a clap, clap, clap clap clap with his hands.
He got everyone in a trance. Chanting his name. Clapping in unison.
DOWER! POWER! Clap, clap, clap clap clap.
DOWER! POWER! Clap, clap, clap clap clap.
I don’t even remember Brian’s speech. Just the echoes of his chant haunting me.
Whatever Brian Dower was or wasn’t for didn’t even matter, because he brought the collective Kopachuck body into such an emotional state people were plugging into his power scheme.
They were moved. In their bodies. By chanting. By clapping. They handed the power of Dower back to Dower.
And… I lost.
But I never lost my power by plugging it into someone outside of me. Not even Dower.
To be super clear: Dower is no Trump. Brian, if you read this please know I totally respect and love you. But for this story's sake there are some curious parallels.
Although hillaryious to observe from the sidelines, this 2016 Election should not be taken lightly. Just as Tom Robbins told me, “don’t take life too seriously, but play seriously.” Now we’re all in this serious power play.
Trump is trying to 'Dower Power' America, claiming the power for change comes from just one person.
And, Dower does have power. But so do I. And so do you.
The last time Brian and I saw each other was at another race. We randomly bumped into each other in 2011 after we both ran Seattle’s half marathon. It was my first and only half marathon, and Dower’s many. I finished at a much slower time than Dower. But I did it. And I did so with a purpose aligned with my values. And that gave me power.
I was running to fundraise for the 501c3 I cofounded, Mind Series, which spotlighted underrepresented health issues through artistic projects. Our current project was filming a documentary on Young Onset Alzheimer’s disease and partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association. I’m proud to say Mind Series imparted some positive impact from coast to coast.
And Brian seemed like he was as powerful and present and confident as ever. He truly is a leader. So there we were, 14 years later, and still in a race of sorts with very different approaches.
To continue the parallels of our story and the larger one, Trump is attempting to “trump” the people by taking away their own power by having them plug into his own. By plugging into his Tower of Power. Which is obviously not real power because just like the Wizard of Oz, behind all that showing-off is a scared little man. And the Tower, it does fall.
And like my vision for equal access to healthy snacks, Hillary has been an agent for shifting our healthcare system for decades. I don’t think Hillary has all the answers, and neither does she. That’s why she is pulling in Bernie and all the voices if we continue to organize and speak up! And this is how we can create an even more progressive platform. Progress, with true power, takes time. There are gestations. Natural rhythms.
So yes, Hillary might not be as popular just as I wasn’t. And her pace may be a bit slower like mine. But if we look at evolution, effective and positive change happens at a slow and steady pace with cooperation. Not corporation!
No more short changing our priceless power as a people.
I sure as hell don’t trust someone who says they alone can make all the change and have all the power to do so. I know NO power lives outside of my contrarian bone other than the greatest power of the mystery of life and death. Contrariwise. True power will keep me in a state of wonder and love...where no bully can rob that. True power that sends the same wonder and love back to all people, especially the bullies.
"THE POWER OF LOVE TRUMPS THE LOVE OF POWER, EVERY TIME." -Terilyn Wyre
And just as my older brother bullied me only to strengthen my own power of love, I believe Trump is here to play that bully for all of us. To wake up to our own power that is already inside each of us.
Let’s continue to each become our own AUTHORity of our American Story.
This unoriginal empire story is boring and fake. We're way more creative than that.
And make necessary edits when we know better. Let's re-rite our rights by expressing authentically from true power within.
On that note, don’t “please vote for me”.
Vote for we.