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Saturday, October 22, 2011

These Boots Are Made for Walking

   This song came out in 1966. I was 7-years-old, but I think it was popular for quite awhile and it has even been recorded by several new artists in recent years. Around the time that this song was released, go-go boots were all the rage. I had two pairs, one in white and and one in black patent leather and I wore them up until was about aged 12. They were knee-high, tight fitting on the leg, with a club heel and a long zipper up the calf. I don't think I was the only little girl that felt the power of the go-go boots and this song! When Nancy would sing that "these boots are gonna walk all over you," I could picture myself stomping over boys that make girls cry, men who hit their wives, alcoholics who became scary when they drink, and I was going to stomp those boots all the way to college and to that high-paying job that would free me from all of the inequities that I perceived from a very young age. There was power in those boots!
   My power boots took me to technical school where I was the only girl in my electronics class. They took me to the local community college electronics program. They took me to a good-paying job as a technician and then an engineering writer. I still felt the power when I bought my own car, had credit in my own name (something women enjoy and take for granted now), and secured my own apartment. That said, I have to admit that I didn't always win the battles with men in my personal relationships. Don't get me wrong, I put up a good fight. Sometimes I won, most times I didn't, but I had the option to march away when I would grow weary in battle. The generation of women before me often times didn't have that very simple option of walking away because they were financially dependent on their husbands. Where was she going to go? How would she support herself and her children? I had determined at a very young age that I would never be that powerless. I have since learned to never say "I'll never" or "I'll always," because as soon as you say it you are probably going to be tested on whatever it was you made those assertions. I surely was.
    I know what domestic violence feels like. I know what it feels like when someone lords his income over you when you have sacrificed your own to raise your children. I know the humiliation of having a husband that lives as if he isn't married and disrespects you in the community that you are trying to live and raise children. I don't share this for sensationalism, I admit this because I wouldn't be authentic when talking about women's issues if I didn't. Getting an education and a good job changed many things, but it didn't automatically change things in the realm of relationships. The only thing it changed was that a woman didn't have to spend her entire life as a martyr or a second class citizen. When enough was enough she could leave! That was profoundly liberating but could also be very complicated, especially if a woman aspires to live a spiritual life as I have always striven to do. Most religions frown on divorce and many condemn those who divorce and remarry. In some churches it is the only unforgivable sin! It's more grievous than murder. I won't get into the theology here. I don't take divorce lightly, and whether it is your fault or the other persons it is excruciatingly painful. I have worked out my own salvation with fear and trembling and every woman contemplating divorce will have to do that for herself. My point here is that we have choices now. I have choices. My daughters have choices. Thank God we have choices!
   I feel I have laid the groundwork now so that I can continue my story of a liberal woman gone conservative, and from changing my party affiliation from Democrat to Republican,  all the way to getting involved in the TEA Party movement. In 2007 I found myself divorced and starting over (again), physically tormented by a disability from a birth defect gone awry, socially secluded, with a nest that was almost empty, and devoid of a dream or a vision for my future. It was astonishing how far backwards I had gone and how hopeless and alone that I felt. Where was the girl with the go-go boots? I didn't know where to start, so I started where I normally do with a prayer. I prayed God I don't know where to begin. I don't know how to find a friend. I don't even know if I have anything left to live a  life of substance. I had put everything I had into raising three girls and now they were all graduated or graduating from high school and didn't need me anymore (or at least not as much). I hadn't continued my education. I hadn't kept my skills updated. I was depleted. After I pray I normally have some quiet time and see if I can hear God's response. I know that sounds ludicrous to some, but that is my normal. I felt like God was telling me to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and He would open doors. I just needed to walk through them. I just needed to not doubt myself or Him and keep walking. I got out the virtual go-go boots and put them on.

    Things started to happen quickly. I was still using a cane at times, very overweight from inactivity due to a chronic back problem, and like I said before, without hope or a vision for my future. The city where I live was starting a program in my area called Neighborhoods 1st where the city is divided into smaller neighborhoods, a citizen group is formed, and the group and city staff work together on issues specific to their neighborhood. I was at the first meeting even though I had lived a reclusive life for almost ten years except for involvement with my children, their school, their activities, and their friends. When it came time to choose officers, a woman I didn't even know nominated me for vice president. I served as VP for one year and as president for almost three years. Through this experience I met many friends and made many contacts. I needed to use skills that I thought were long gone such as organizing, planning, writing, and using social networking and the computer for the maintenance and growth of the group. Imagine that.
    I kept on walking through every door. An opportunity to serve as a victim advocate for the police department was brought to my attention. The loss of my sister to a murder-suicide gave me the compassion and the desire to serve on this team. I kept on walking.
   Meanwhile, the country has elected the most liberal senator with the least experience of any president in the country's history. My radar was picking up on dangerous vibes. The blind adulation was eerie. The refusal of the liberal media to take an honest look at this man, his belief system, his history, his dubious friends and connections, and his lack of experience was frustrating and frightening. Anyone who dared to bring up any of these issues was immediately branded a racist. It was like a nightmare when you can't wake up. I worried. I watched the news being hyper vigilant. I felt powerless as I watched not only Obama win the presidency but also the House and the Senate become dominated by progressive liberals who want to "fundamentally change America." After seeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) passed at the end of the Bush administration and watching the passing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February of 2009, bank and Wall Street bailouts, and the government takeover of private corporations by the new Obama administration I felt with all my heart that something needed to be done quickly or this country would soon become something that I no longer recognized and that my children would be robbed of their American heritage. I saw this country rolling downhill fast toward bankruptcy only to be "saved" by those who wish to change us into a European style socialist country. Then I heard about the now famous Rick Santelli rant about the need for a modern-day tea party and the Glenn Beck 912 Project. I liked the 912 Project message that "we are not alone" and "they [progressive liberals] don't surround us, we surround them." A spark of hope ignited. Then I heard that there was going to be a Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party all across America on tax day, which was April 15, 2009.  Are ya ready boots...
    I was still very much a loner even though I had begun to come out of my shell through Neighborhoods 1st. While I had always followed politics I had never been active in any way except for voting. I was still dealing with chronic pain daily and used a cane. Yet, the more I heard about this upcoming TEA Party the more compelled I felt to be a part of it. I heard of a website where you could register in your hometown as someone interested in participating. I had never done anything like that before, but I signed on and registered. I thought I was registering to participate, but when I received a message thanking me for volunteering to organize the TEA Party in my area I panicked. I couldn't figure out how to undo it, and a couple of days later I received a call from a young man named Neil Parrott asking me if I was organizing a rally in Hagerstown. I blabbered on about how it was a mistake and that I only wanted to participate in the rally not organize it. He said that he was going to organize it and would keep me updated. I was so relieved.
   It then occurred to me that I was going to need signs for the rally. I found some on-line, saved them to my thumb drive, and took them to Staples to be printed on card stock and laminated. I then went to the hardware store and bought garden stakes to mount the signs onto and use as handles. I had never done anything like this before! No one told me to do this. I was compelled.
  When April 15th arrived it was a cold and rainy day and that makes my pain issues worse. I didn't care. I was going. I started to fear what and who I might see at the rally. What if they were skin heads? What if they were violent? I didn't care. I was going. Cane, umbrella, and protest signs in hand I walked downtown ready for anything. Right away I saw a woman that I knew from Neighborhoods 1st who lived on my street and I was a little relieved. I saw Neil Parrott and he didn't appear to be a skin head. I was more relieved. People slowly began to arrive until there were about 300 people there in the pouring rain, lining both sides of the main street through town. The protesters were normal, everyday people who were enthusiastically protesting in a lawful, non-violent, considerate manner. It was amazing! Most of the cars passing us on the street honked their horns in solidarity with our message. No more bailouts! No new taxes! Protect our Constitution! It grew colder and rained hard at times and my back was killing me. I refused to leave until it was over. I stood there for three hours. There was one man with an oxygen tank. I figured that if he could do it, then I could do it too. When it was over I was in so much pain that I didn't think I could make it  home. The neighbor that I saw there put me on a bus and made sure I made it home. I was spent, but I was full of hope for the first time in a very long while. I was ready to commit to this movement in any way that I could for as long is it took to turn things around in this country.
    Just a little over two years later, that young man who organized the event is now our state delegate. He turned the Hagerstown TEA Party over to a seven-member board and I am the vice president. Who knew? This is exciting because it is proof that you are never too old, too sick, too lost, too depleted, or too anything to decide to live a life that matters. This is real hope! Just figure out what is important to you and pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
    Are ya ready boots? START WALKING!!!

TEA Party, W. Washington Street, Hagerstown, MD

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