Who says women can’t … do just about anything? This is the question posed by the editors of ForbesWoman, and I challenge you all to consider finishing the statement. Here’s my ending:
My ‘power’ moment came in 2002, when I was standing outside the doors to the House Floor, watching then-president George W. Bush give the first State of the Union address after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. After four intense years working toward my master’s in journalism, I was awarded a fellowship as a Washington DC correspondent. My beat: Politics, baby. I was covering Massachusetts and Rhode Island, including Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. Barney Frank, two key legislators in a very pivotal time in our country.
I was petrified to leave Boston. I had a great apartment, amazing friends and a job that paid the bills. But after many sleepless nights, a petition for a leave of absence from the company I was working for, and an unforgettable party thrown in my honor, I packed up the rental car and drove to Washington, DC. My mission: to attend the State of the Union address.
My mentor and then-editor of Fortune Magazine’s Washington bureau said to me, ‘This is Washington. If you want it, don’t stop until you get it. Make yourself known, and fast.’ And so I did. (more…)
I remember the first day I volunteered with the Special Olympics. It was in high school and I coached track for the 8-10 year olds. The kids were inspiring… full of hope and excitement. Nearly two decades later, I remember the feeling I had when I handed one athlete a medal. He was so proud.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, 1921–2009
Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s passing reminds us all that hope, hard work and a little faith can turn obstacles into miracles. While her brothers, John, Bobby, and Teddy, all tackled politics, Eunice tackled people. She lent a hand to those who had no strength and made them heroes. John F. Kennedy once said he feared seeing Eunice in the White House because ‘she always had an agenda.’ Thankfully, her agenda was heard.
I remember just a few years ago helping out the Special Olympics in Boston. I made sure each of the athletes had enough water, enough food and enough fun to carry them through their day. The reality is that they didn’t need any of the handouts from the table — they were given a gift from Eunice a long time ago, and every year the Special Olympians re-open their gift and make their patron Saint very proud.
When Eunice Kennedy Shriver passed on Aug. 11, 2009, a silence fell over the people she gave a voice to, but her legacy lives on in all who maintain their dreams.
“You are the stars and the world is watching you. By your presence you send a message to every village, every city, every nation. A message of hope. A message of victory.” ~ Eunice Kennedy Shriver
Today you won a hard-fought battle and your prize is America. It won’t be an easy road – there are a lot of challenges ahead of you and whether you like it or not, you’ve got a horrible mess to clean-up from the last guy. Not even a Saturday Night Live skit can mask the problems America is suffering from, so it’s up to you to turn things around.
I voted for you, and I believe in you. Here are some things to keep in mind:
* Don’t defy your integrity. It’s what got you here; it’s what will keep you here.
* Please save my money. I worked hard – very hard – for the little money I have. While I am in a stable job, making a good salary and actually contributing to a real investment plan, I don’t feel I’m obligated to give back to the corrupt CEOs or the lazy people who didn’t take time to understand policy and procedure before entering into an agreement that would rattle the U.S. economy. (more…)
One day until the most influential election of my generation. Yes, there were influential presidents before tomorrow, but none that I was able to vote for. Tomorrow marks my most powerful vote, and I’m scared as hell.
I’ve always been an idealist; maybe to a fault or maybe it’s what keeps me going. I held on to my idealism when I visited the jail every weekend for three months to interview inmates who claim to be wrongly accused for committing grotesque crimes. I watched in wonderment from the House floor as the President of the United States gave a State of the Union address immediately following the worst attack on U.S. soil, which ignited Americans to unify and fight for their freedom and I wondered, “how can he be so sure we’re safe?” I witnessed the American flag rise every morning from the five-starred Pentagon building only to reveal a blown-out section of the very building that defends my freedom, and I still believe. I believe that America is the greatest country in the world – not without its faults, but sacred with strength.
Earlier in the year, I became part of history when I cast a vote for a woman president of the United States. While my vote wasn’t able to carry Hilary Clinton into the delegation, I am equally in awe at the option of voting for the first black man as president. This election is a sign of progression, but I shudder to wonder how many Americans are afraid to move ahead.
Can America vote a black man into the highest office, or will the segregated America of years past rear its ugly head behind the steel curtains of the voting booth?
I’m nervous at the news headlines that flood my inbox today:
Obama leading in key voting sectors
One day, eight points
Hope, fears as Harlem gets election fever
Nervous not because of the predictions, but because the predictions might be wrong. Is America voting with heart and soul, or with mixed emotions? Is the Bradley Effect nearing the corner? Will voters say one thing to the pollsters, only to vote the opposite inside the poll booth?
Maybe we’re not as evolved as we claim to be. Maybe we need the Maverick mentality to lead us to salvation from the war we didn’t want and the economy we lost. Maybe a moose-hunting woman is more influential than a small town senator. Maybe an ex-POW is needed more than an optimistic evolutionary. Or maybe not.
I think of what America would be without Roe vs. Wade, healthcare coverage or an ally in Israel and I am frightened. But I’m comforted by the thought that for one brief moment tomorrow, behind the steel curtains of the polling booth, I’ll be at peace with my vote.