Category Archives: Personal Perspectives

Oh…The Humanity!

It happened. All of my frustrations from a ridiculous election season followed by an even more absurd legislative  session culminated into one, giant hate-filled implosion. But before we get to the “fixing,” let’s start with the “causing.”

I went into this session excited, which is surprising considering this was not my first. But my excitement quickly crumbled into little bits of ‘what the hell?’ when an entire group of people I trusted abandoned what I knew of them – a complete toppling of conviction in this mess of politics because of ego and greed.

I couldn’t take one more second of the blow hards on Facebook pretending that ‘their’ elected official was somehow ‘immune’ to the ridiculousness and still had ‘pure tendencies.’ The lies, the backstabbing, and then my phone was changing “Amen” to “amendment”. I couldn’t even end a prayer without thoughts of politics. I had had enough.

I left work early on Wednesday mad as hell. I went home, walked the dogs and headed to the
gym. Except that made it all worse. The lady three treadmills down from me was talking on her phone and I could hear her entire conversation over the ever-so-timely Cee Lo Green song on my headphones. I was about ready to march off my machine, yank her cord right out of the socket, and rip her a new one when I actually made eye contact with her. I felt this overwhelming guilt consume me because I didn’t hate the lady on the treadmill. I hated that all of the hate had consumed me and I no longer recognized myself. I…hated it.

I’m not sure if you know this, but I too am a human. Despite the disparaging blogs, the sassy, IMG_1842 sarcastic comments, and the sometimes anti-political tirades, my heart is still pure. I am a grateful cheerful person. I like wine, pizza, puppies, and babies who aren’t weeping – just like everyone else. And despite the hype, I am not as bad as some make me out to be. Like everyone else, I pick my battles and burn bridges, but I do so carefully. If you look back over 4 years of writing, I’ve only lit the match for 2 bridges: the one connecting me to Sen. John Albers and the other to Rep. Christian Coomer.

Why does this matter? Because I had a heavy heart over the people who did not see my tenacious effort to discuss things, not people. And then I realized, it isn’t my fault that elected officials take their job so seriously that a criticism of their work kills any conversation and most of the time, all friendships. It isn’t my fault that their pursuit of ‘what is right’ does not look like mine. It isn’t my fault that they have a problem with me.

But the humanity.

This humanity thing, it keeps us immune to many things, like melting and time travel, but not from the hatred we see amongst us in politics. Not the hurt of finding that a mutual contributor who writes alongside side you says horrible, nasty no-good things about you’ and tells people they want nothing more than to see you fail.

Humanity does not make you immune to the deafening silence of no one around when you’ve been raked over the coals. It does not keep you warm in the ice-cold reality of knowing those you depended on won’t be there.

Humanity does not make you immune to recognizing that just about every legislator, or citizen for that matter, from Gwinnett county is trying to make your life a living hell because you don’t like a few of their ‘concepts.’

Humanity does not keep us from hating people back because they hated us first.

Humanity does not make you immune to the pain of a defeat, no matter how small.

Humanity does not make you immune to the fact that the ‘minority’ in this state is not a party or a race, but a group of people who have nothing to gain from this vicious, cyclical game that most of us cannot escape.

I’ve been called a lot of things in the last 90 days – some under the Gold Dome and some from those people on Maple Avenue. Pro-predator, someone who supports human trafficking, just about every curse word you can imagine, and of course, someone who has ‘close ties to the adult entertainment industry.’ But I am none of these things.

What I am is “green.” Even after 5 years. I’ve never been in situations where people hate others. High school was a pretty easy time in my life and most of my jobs have yielded friends, not enemies. I have a few weird family members, but I am told that is normal.

In politics, there is no shoulder to cry on. In fact, there isn’t really a time, place, or purpose for crying at all. And unless you’re married to someone in politics – which I thankfully am not – you go home to find that what you feel is even harder to explain to someone on the outside. Your mom will just want to “fix it” and if she can’t, she’ll want to fight those battles for you. Your friends just want you to have a glass of wine and forget about it.

Then social media complicates things. When you aren’t consumed with the political rants, your feed is bombarded with wicked skinny witches who are leaving the maternity ward with skinny bird legs that are still somehow smaller than yours at your own birth and that pesky, annoying person from high school who has received yet another promotion. There is no escaping humanity.

But the truth is: I don’t want to be immune from the humanity.

You see, the “me” in this isn’t just me and all the “I…” is really just the voice of a lot of other people like me. The people who see no appeal in the actual game. The people who want to make a difference. The people who have nothing to gain. Replace “Jessica” in this article with the person you can’t stand and want to see fail. Ask yourself if you’re forcing them to face unnecessary battles.

Sometimes we all need slack and understanding. Sometimes we need a break to restore ourselves to the softness of which we know of ourselves to embody. Sometimes we forget that we are dealing with living, breathing human beings. We forget that human beings, by nature and the grace of God, have feelings.

The biggest problem is that we forget that we all got into this because we had ‘some feelings’ about ‘some issue’ at some point. We suffer when we forget what those feelings are. Personally, that is my new daily task and it will take nothing short of a valiant effort.

In the meantime, I implore you to look at how you treat those around you. Specifically, those you find yourself disliking and hating the most. Ask yourself how much better off you’ll be by putting someone else down. It’s time we start distinguishing between the people who truly hurt our cause and our progress from those who, much like ourselves, are fighting the battles for the things they believe to be right. We need to make a concerted effort to not destroy PEOPLE because their POLICIES do not look like ours.

Most people in politics are terrible people. Those of us who cling to our purity should not succumb to being like ‘most people.’

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“Where Did You Come From?”

The question I get most frequently in the realm of politics is ‘Where did you come from?’ or rather, why am I the way I am? Don’t worry, this isn’t the beginning of an Eminem song.

Like any person, my direct route from day 1 to present is full of twists and turns.  So many experiences mold us into who we are, but for many people, it is difficult to pin point the exact moment in time when they became who they are. I don’t have that problem.

I have always had an argumentative streak and my 11th grade history teacher at Centennial High School, Mr. Porter, did no disservice in allowing me to speak my mind early and often despite his love of Abraham Lincoln and his first edition Toyota Prius. In 2004, I was still the cookie cutter solid suburban (R) who would defend the party until I was blue in the face, and God bless him, he had to deal with me in an election year. It served us both well and prepped me for college and graduate school where I continued to evolve.

But my life changed the day I met Andrew Wordes, the Roswell Chicken man. A man of small stature and a unique voice you could pick out of any crowd, I met Andrew at a campaign event in 2009. He was kind and gracious and wanted to know what, as a young person, drove me to get involved in politics. “It was an accident,” I told him. But he shrugged it off, said that was impossible, and went on to show me pictures of his dog, pigs, and of course, his chicken. I entertained the conversation because I couldn’t believe he had chickens in the ‘burbs.

Over the next few months, I saw Andrew several times and eventually, someone filled me in on his battle against the City of Roswell. I was mortified to learn about his years-long debacle. The man withstood a retroactive vendetta ordinance, lawsuit(s) against him by the City (an unprecedented act in the State of Georgia), the grading of the land around his home by the City without permission and notice, pressure to submit to eminent domain far below FMV, multiple nights in jail due to police harassment, city employees meddling with his mortgage holder, and the poisoning of his animals which caused the death of over half of them, yet some how some way, the man managed to get up every day to see another fight and volunteer to help others.

I was enamored by his lengthy story and asked him if I could document it on my blog. Of course he said yes and we began talking almost daily so he could fill me in on updates between the lawsuits and the police casing his home.

He sometimes appeared angry, but that was mostly out of frustration of people not listening. He wanted to be heard. He was often characterized as ‘crazy’ but that was purely because he was unwavering and was doing things no one had ever done. He had compassion and showed complete devastation when his animals were poisoned and dying – he held them and nurtured them in their suffering. He was never short on emotion and I adored that about him.

He was a man of controversy because he challenged his government, bucked the system, mouthed off, often stood alone, and never gave up. He ultimately took his own life under pressures many of us will be lucky enough to never face. He made some mistakes and he wasn’t always the most eloquent man, but he was a man of conviction and principle. He loved his freedom, his country, and his God.

Tomorrow, March 26th, marks the 3 year anniversary of the death of my sweet friend Andrew Wordes. I still have a page on my blog dedicated to highlighting his stories. Three years and I can’t take it down, despite that fact that it highlights my reel of immature and unrefined elementary writing skills. I still have a voicemail on an old phone from Sunday, March 25th, 2012 from Andrew. He told me things were “good” and he was expecting things to turn around. He said we would talk tomorrow so we could plan our next course of action to keep fighting. Session was in and he wanted to go down and talk to his State Senator who wouldn’t take his calls.

He died the next day but left a fire in us all that reminds us we can’t just fight our own battles and we can’t always choose the big “flashy” battles. He left behind an inspired and an enraged league of Liberty-lovers who don’t forget to mention his story. He didn’t win his battle, but he’s winning the war because every day someone, somewhere inches closer to awakening on an issue and someone new gets involved. He taught others to further this and to do so with conviction and emotion – so as never to come across as disingenuous.

I don’t believe in coincidences. It was no accident that I met Andrew on my very first campaign at the very first event. It’s no accident that Andrew’s story was one of the first controversial blogs I ever penned – an extreme illustration of government overreach that went largely unnoticed by the media – two things I stomp and raise a ruckus about now.  It’s no coincidence that –right or wrong- even the drama surrounding the incident of Andrew taking his own life was a political statement that continues the conversation.

I have no doubt that I documented Andrew’s story on my own blog, not for his benefit, but for mine.  So that when I felt like giving up, I would have a written journal of what he encountered and a shiny mirror of reflection illuminating the fact that he never relented. A staunch reminder that I was taught to stand tall and loud even when I’m alone and to never withhold my emotion and passion from a cause – no matter how small.

 

 

Do More Than Exist

NY resolution

“You keep waiting for the moral of your life to become obvious, but it never does. Work, work, work: No moral. No plot. No eureka! Just production schedules and days. You might as well be living inside a photocopier.” That’s what Douglas Coupland said in Player One: What is to Become of Us.

And he’s right. 2015 is upon us and here we are again, looking for the best way to make ourselves and our lives better. The majority of our New Years “Resolutions”  cover the realm of weight loss and healthy eating, saving a little more money, calling home a little more often or maybe even a better balance of work and play -however those scales may be tipped. The little things we make big things that we are sure will ensure perfection. Shortly, our Facebook News Feed will be inundated with ‘Tips & Tricks for a Better You.” Sure, there is something great about starting with a fresh slate, a clean calendar that no one has written on, no mistakes yet engraved on the concrete tombstone for 2015. How refreshing! I would be lying if I said I hadn’t succumbed to the excitement as well.

I’ve had no qualms about sharing my own personal journey in discovering myself, particularly in the last year, which has been about as smooth as trying to chew rocks. Between the unknowns and the ‘oops, I shouldn’t have done that” moments, I’m well equipped to write a book on how NOT to do just about everything. (But we all are, and I like that.) Earlier this month, I left an excellent-paying job, with benefits! where I was making more than what’s adequate for someone my age. I left without a plan (seems to be a life trend lately) because I wasn’t fulfilled. I was just ‘there.’ And I knew that change wasn’t going to knock unless I brought change to the door. So, when the knock at the door came, I opened it and left. (I sort of left through a window, but that’s a different story for a different day.)

So, what does this have to do with the New Year? Nothing, really. I mentioned the story about quitting my job above because it made me realize I would rather ‘still be looking’ for my purpose than spend my days doing something I know isn’t my passion. Because I was sick of my own excuses as to why I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do. Because I could sit in a glass office all day watching the world go by knowing that other people are doing their own version of what is ‘good’ and I was just a factory of one liners about ‘not the right time’, ‘not the right finances’, ‘not the right people’.

But nothing ever comes at the right time. And if it did, would you know it?

When evaluating how you’re going to do better this year, the weight loss benchmarks and the healthy eating shenanigans are all impossible good goals, but that isn’t what life is about. Life isn’t all about your occupation and neither is this blog. You could say this about who you’re dating, or loving, or your hobbies, or lack thereof, or the example you’re showcasing for your children. Because every day is a clean slate and you can start over whenever you want. You can change directions when you don’t like the scenery. You can shift gears when rocks are jumbled in the engine. Or something. There are no excuses. So why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you plan to change the world a little bit every day? Why wouldn’t your plan be utopian? Seems like anything short of that that you actually attain would be pretty satisfying.

Ask yourself what your purpose is for today. Why are you here? How are you going to make a difference? What have you been fearing, yet yearning to do? Will you do more than just exist this year? Will you do more than exist for the day? Or is it just another photocopy?

“The purpose of life is a life with a purpose, so I’d rather die for a cause than live a life that is worthless.” – Immortal Technique

Why Not Honesty?

As we head into another legislative session, everyone is getting their ‘game face’ on, and by ‘game face’ I mean ‘fake face.’ They’re stretching their arms for those ever-so-delicate handshakes, you know the ones I’m talking about…where you grasp one hand and embrace the elbow of the opposite person with the other hand. The phony smiles and the awkward photo ops. All of it is upon us.

But I can’t stand it. It’s something I struggle with significantly in politics. The schmoozing and the deceit. Part of it is my inability to filter thoughts before they exit my mouth and part of it stems from my idealistic nature, but I find the schmoozing to be dishonest and deceptive.  I recognize that you can’t just go barreling through every GOP meeting and Facebook argument letting every single person know how much you truly dislike them – or more likely, something they are doing, (and certainly not everyone needs to be Coomered,) but at what point is the cordiality detrimental to the process?

At political events, I like standing in the back of the room watching people interact. You’ll see someone hug it out, smile and exchange conversation about the wonderfulness of each other and both will walk away rolling their eyes only to do the same thing to the next person. Yet both think there is a mutual friendship. Based on what?

People in politics are mean and we know this. We often times treat each other terribly for no good reason. Pre-conceived notions, looks, newness, affiliations and friends, or sometimes ‘just because’ all determine how people are harshly judged in politics. We’re all guilty of it because it’s part of the game, right? But friendships have no foundation and everyone is shocked when both the relationships and the process crumble.

My problem is that The Game is exhausting. The Game has come to the point of stagnation and because of The Game, you can’t defeat that awful legislator with deep pockets because even his greatest enemies funnel money to the campaign war chest (mind blown – by the way) and The Game is why folks are blindsided on Election Day or at conventions because ‘everyone said they would vote for me.’

The game also dictated the point at which it became socially unacceptable to politely, to their face, tell an elected official that you don’t like their vote or their legislation. Most level-headed people understand that telling them so doesn’t mean they have to change how they think, but we don’t even talk about talking about it because this talking is not allowed. The Game is truly why we cannot have nice things.

Internet articles and blogs have certainly changed things and there are some elected officials- party and political- who welcome dissent because they believe it makes them better, but most in the process hate any dissent and consider it a grave threat. They’re forgetting every coin has two sides.

I admit every day that my idealism gets me in trouble more than some might think and I am mostly proud of that. I’ve always said it’s my starting point because when we start in the middle, we all lose. But I also expect better because I’ve seen it in action. I know it seems I sometimes harp on what seems to be ‘the obvious’ but when someone is not pointing out ‘the obvious’, everyone is just standing around pretending ‘the obvious’ isn’t there, twiddling their fingers, continually taking the long, twisted path to exit the maze when there is a direct route.

People in politics – and even those not in politics – understand that no politician or activist is the same. Voters are not the same. People think differently and it’s the compromising ‘middle ground’ part that’s hard. In a debate yesterday, someone told me, ‘Well, that’s the best we are going to get.’ I’m not stupid. I know that, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. It doesn’t mean I have to enjoy lukewarm day-old oatmeal with no cinnamon. So I’m going to keep asking for better tasting oatmeal so people don’t get accustomed to serving the Wal-Mart brand. (The Wal-Mart brand being the dishonest “gaming” brand, if I lost you in that analogy.)

Tell me: What’s more respectable than honesty? What’s more valuable than knowing where you stand with someone?  What’s more freeing than clearing the air with someone with whom you have tension? What’s more honorable than having the guts to tell someone directly why AND how you think?

Perhaps if we offered a little more honesty, we would see a little more honesty out of the process.

Why I Can’t Care About My Vote

I knew it when I made my decision early in the summer. I knew people would be mad. I knew some GOP folks would be disappointed and I knew some ‘expected better.’

People are mad as hell about us non-straight-ticket voters. We’re wasting votes, they won’t count, it’s a vote for Reid/Obama/Pelosi/Jimmy Carter/Hitler, it’s unprincipled, it’s wrong. In reality, I’ve never publicly stated who I’m voting for in which races and I’ve been rather critical of all the candidates…because no one is perfect. I’ve been honest with those that ask. But even the idea of questioning has put me on the chopping block with people I call friends.

There are folks who have stopped calling, texting, engaging. They feel they have to distance themselves from me, politically…at least “through the election cycle.” Because that’s what a lot of political friends are…surface level. Whether they’re angry, bitter, scared, I seem to have become a threat to their credibility. Seems like most people just don’t know what to do about me…and anyone else who isn’t cut from the 2014 cloth.

It’s like I left the farm, married outside the cult, sought refuge with the enemy, branded a scarlet letter…however you want to describe it. And I’m not alone. The laundry list of folks who aren’t voting straight ticket this year and have been shunned and outcasted by their fellow party pals is miles long.

For me, 2014 is the first major election cycle where I’ve interacted with people in this capacity and on this level. In 2010, I was just a baby envelope-licking volunteer and in 2012, I was still a ‘Jessica What’s-her-last-name?” I certainly didn’t vocalize my opinions as I do now.

To say that it’s frustrating to hear 60%, 70% and 80% friends are sufficient to be accepted by fellow conservatives but then see it fail in practicality is an understatement. What’s interesting is that I’ve had SEVERAL people ask me privately who I’m voting for in specific races, but only one of them has asked me why. And that person is 21 years old. I think that speaks volumes about what’s going on in our political environment right now. The why stopped mattering months ago.  It’s war now and we’re out for blood.

Like I wrote in a previous article about the worst thing about people in politics, I can’t be angry with the people who don’t agree with me or the ones who feel I have abandoned the GOP in some races on the ballot. It’s not the first time for some other folks but it is for me, and politics certainly isn’t the end-all-be-all of life (amazing fact, isn’t it?!). But politics is personal – whether it be about candidates or issues, it’s painfully personal- and all about relationships. In the quiet, the shunned are sad about what this as all come to.

To be clear, this isn’t a ‘woe is me’ plea.  I’m just fine and I’ll continue to be just fine. I’ve yet to write something I don’t stand behind and I’m not too damaged by the political process to not admit when I’m wrong. There are plenty of people ‘protest voting’ out of anger but what about those of us who genuinely feel convicted to do something different?

I think a lot of people assumed I had ‘toned it down’ after the Delvis Dutton campaign, and in a lot of ways I have, but if I took anything away from that experience, it’s to stay true to my principles and convictions. If that means that folks within the GOP don’t ever let us seasonal and rogue Republicans back into their rodeo ring, so be it. Conscience and principle is a sword I’m willing to fall on. If that means losing friends and influence, I’m okay with that too.

The reality is that whether this election ends in November or January, it will end. Then what happens? Do we hug it out? Or is the nail in the coffin bludgeoned by a sledgehammer prepared for a shallow grave of GOP used-to-be’s who will taint the cause because of that one time we fled the compound?

City Life: Not the American Dream

Depending on when you started reading this blog, you may or may not have followed the Green Acres reenactment documented here. If you didn’t, it may help with perspective if you catch up. If you did, great…let’s pick up where we left off.

Before we go forward though, let’s acknowledge that to industry standard of blogging something on here will offend someone. That’s the point. Those are the things that make us think critically. And today we will think critically about concrete jungles.

City life is suffocating. City life is suffocating and we often don’t even know why. We attribute it to the stress of our jobs, bills, the traffic, the weather, and family-work life balance accompanied by a laundry list of other things. It lacks the freedom and peace of life outside the metro areas where you embrace those around you and not only see, but feel your surroundings. You see yourself in the mirror, not the clock in the background telling your you’re late yet again.

Here in the city, we wake up and do the same thing every day. Same time, same place. Every 5th house is the same- literally the exact same floor plan- just different colors on the walls. Builders scoot by because we want what our neighbors want (or at least we think we do) and of course, it’s the cheapest way to do it and how much of an investment are we really looking to have here? It’s not like it’s our forever home. We will have to move again in 5 years because this just isn’t the right fit. We have the same car, just a different color and of course, everything is a competition.

It’s a race to and from the city to work and back. Sometimes to and from the suburbs. It matters not, though, because it’s all just miles upon hours just roasting in a concrete vacuum that literally and figuratively sucks the life out of you while you grow to hate thy neighbor because they just cut you off on your morning commute and you both needed those two car lengths but you were distracted by the slew of emails and didn’t quite stay close enough to that bumper in front of you. They snuck in and now your mood is altered.

You work all day but you don’t remember much about it. At 5 pm, you hop in the car back to the concrete vacuum because one hour in the morning wasn’t enough.  You may take a moment to think about “what else is out there” but the honking and expletives quickly shake you from that.

You return home to reflect on what you did that day, searching for something, anything tangible, that you produced but there is nothing. You go to bed early because you have to do it all over again tomorrow. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

What happened to small town America? What happened to the producers? The foundations of a quality life? I once heard that you don’t add value unless you mine it, manufacture it, or grow it. Sure, we do other things too, like provide services, but for what? What is our purpose? Some people love their job, but most either love their job or just love the fruits of their labors. I could make this immensely political, but I’ll refrain.

Mostly I want to know what happened to the longevity of a life? Establishing roots? Where is the love of community? How can we help our neighbor if we never meet them? We never meet them because we’re never home. We work hard to afford a home and things we never get to enjoy because we’re too busy earning. What are we teaching our children if we spend two hours with them before bed? How much of us is passed off to them if we’re not around? What IS our purpose? What do we want to leave behind?

If you love your city life, I suggest staying here. Don’t leave. Don’t go breathe. Don’t drive on a dirt road where the only thing that slows you down is your own fear. Because when you get back, you won’t know what to do and you’ll feel the choke hold of the rat race that is inescapable and leaves you wondering everyday, ‘What is different about today?’

These days, on the off-chance that I get to cruise on the expressway upwards of 80 mph, it’s freeing. It’s a brief escape and I can almost feel free if I close my eyes for just a couple of seconds…just before I hit the I-285 merge and it starts all over again. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

 

Why I Chase Unicorns & Leprechauns

Compromise is a funny thing. In politics, you’re asked to compromise on everything: on candidates, on talking points, and most often, on policy. Everything is a negotiation and everything is a chess move. There’s a method to all of this madness.

We’re forced to compromise because of the apathy and the money it takes to win an election. A government no longer run by the people has left us grasping for anything similar to what we used to know and accepting the bits and pieces of something that is ‘good’. When we consider the welfare state, social programs, the lack of enforcement of immigration laws, the overreach, and the student loan bubble, it leaves us wondering ‘What is left to compromise?

I take a lot of heat for my idealism. A lot. Probably daily someone shames me for it. If someone dislikes me, it is mostly likely due to the fact that they see me as unwilling to move and my willingness to fight you until we’re both blue in the face. (That, or I previously wrote a blog about them. #sorrynotsorry) I had a discussion with someone yesterday about principles and ‘appealing to the masses’. It’s difficult to appeal to everyone when you’re principled. People who are liked by everyone are probably selling out somewhere along the line. It just isn’t possible in life, but especially in politics. But what about appealing to everyone, having principles and somehow implementing it?
I present to you this beautiful chart I crafted on a paper towel:

“Jessica’s Scale of Feasibility”

jessica

I fully recognize that I’m out there dangling on my own (or with a small minority) on A LOT of issues, but utopia and perfection start the conversation on a less complicated platform. Imagine if we began every policy conversation, partisan or not, right in the middle. There’s a reason lawyers aim high in settlement negotiations. There’s a reason Haliegh’s Hope Act (HB 885) should have covered more ground in the initial draft. There’s a reason a comprehensive gun law has all kinds of bells and whistles in it before it gets to a vote. There’s a reason candidates ask for more money than they believe they will obtain. You ask for that $1,000 donation in hopes of getting $500. You don’t ask for $500 because you need $500. You’ll end up with $250 almost every time.

Idealism presents wiggle room for improvement. We should all strive to be idealistic on at least one issue. It keeps the purity. And we have to acknowledge that on one issue –just one- we expect nothing less than perfection from start to finish. We acknowledge that progress isn’t sufficient. We each dig our feet in on one issue and refuse to cave for one fight…because the quick-to-bloom rose may smell better but cabbage makes better soup.

In a day when our policy is lacking principle, it’s even more important that we look to people to represent those principles whether in elected office or just in those pesky activists.  That’s where the principle will be restored. So whether you’re consistently principled, or consistently inconsistent, be principled.  Idealistic in principle and practical in application.

“Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.” – George Carlin

13 Things I Learned at 25

Dont-tell-me-what-to-do-cover-2009-download
Last year, I didn’t want to be 25. 24 had been so great to me and full of so much wonderfulness, I didn’t want it to end. I am blessed enough to say that this journey we call life has once again been good to me as the clock ticks on to 26.

With the exception of my highlight tint though, life doesn’t look much like it did at 25. We don’t take much time to reflect on changes on a daily basis, but I try to make a point of it at least on a birthday. Each year we grow, we pick up new traits and let others fizzle off…so here are a few of my takeaways from the last year of ‘development’.

13. If you can’t tone it, tan it.
12. You can evade law enforcement with jelly beans. And jokes. Additionally, begging.
11. People aren’t walking around this earth judging each other as much as we think they are. Except babies. They judge everything.
10. South Georgia is undeniably where you will find your Grace.
9. We are torn down by hardships to a rawness so that we can rebuild differently because we are on the wrong path.
8. People can’t read your mind. If you want something, you have to tell them so. If you need help, you have to tell them that too.
7. People will tolerate your hard-headed stubbornness if you’re consistent and principled. They just want to know what to expect.
6. The more you try to mold your life, the more fluid it will become.
5. We are almost never sure about what we do want, but always sure about what we don’t want.
4. Indecision is the worst decision.
3. We continue to grow when we allow ourselves to do so. We can’t resist everything…new opportunities, different kinds of people, different ways of thinking…we will never be right about everything – at least not all at the same time.
2. You can’t let fear control you. You have to leave your comfort zone and go into the unknown with a firm reliance on faith. Often. If it’s both terrifying and wonderful, you should absolutely do it.
1. When you take a leap of faith, you’re forced to trust more in The Lord, in others, and surprisingly, yourself. That’s growth.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” –Oscar Wilde

25

This Is Stupid

Today I am mad as hell. Yesterday afternoon I found out that a candidate I voted for accepted money – A LOT OF MONEY- from one of my least favorite organizations. Like, THE WORST. The one that I dislike the most. The Anti-Liberty.

I’m a passionate person invested in politics so naturally my anger came seething from me in the form of clenched fists and brisk walks around the park. I wanted to yell, to stomp my feet and to quit. ‘This is so stupid!’, I thought to myself. ‘Why bother? Just stop paying attention, stop caring! Someone like me can never beat the game of money.’ And it happens all the time.

But I cant do that. Because the political world doesn’t stop- or even slow down- because I don’t like it. It doesn’t pause when I hiccup, or make the wrong choice. It doesn’t ease up when it seems like everyone around me is ‘selling out’ or when I feel like I’m riding a bike through two feet of peanut butter.

Charlie Harper once told me “This is an industry that is thankless, shallow, and soul crushing. It is designed to abuse the idealistic for the benefit of the soulless.” It’s probably the most honest statement anyone in politics has ever told me.

Politics is dirty. It’s filthy. It’s disheartening. People are mean. They lie. They stab you in the back. They say what they have to say and do what they have to do to get elected. They lose sight of why they were ‘doing it’ in the first place. They will be wrong. (You will be wrong!) They will let you down. (I can only think of two elected officials I know with certainty have never disappointed me. 2. Two. Dos.) That’s because everyone has their eye on the prize and rarely do those prizes look identical. And that’s okay.

So the days you want to give up, you absolutely should. You should go home to your family, or friends, or dogs, or a glass bottle of wine. Then, you should remind yourself why you’re doing it because at one point, there was a purity and a focus in you. You should take breaks and recharge, but never feel defeated. The system is the system. It will be broken whether you step up to the plate or not. You can either work within it (and it will run you over sometimes) or quit, but we all suffer every time one person drops out and stops articulating an opinion or fighting their own fight.

It doesn’t matter if you’re so Red, you’re already working on your “Draft Mitt Romney” Facebook page for 2016, or the Libertarian skipping every race on the ballot, or the Blue Dog donating to HillaryPac every day (just kidding- those folks don’t make money!).
The reality is that by playing the game in your own little way, somewhere along the line, while beating The Drum, you’ll change a heart and mind. You’ll lose some and you’ll win some, but you can’t say the same if you quit for good. So do quit. But just for the night.

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Grace.

You wouldn’t have to read many articles on this blog or spend much time with me in person to learn I’ve got a feisty, snarky stubbornness in the way I communicate politically. I have my own way of doing things, to say the least. You probably think you know what to expect on this blog a day after an election…but I may surprise you.

The majority of news outlets today will say that it “didn’t go our way”, but I just can’t see it that way. Since the inception of this campaign, it was never leaning “our way”. It was always “not enough time”, “too big of a district”, “too small a staff” (thanks, y’all) and “not enough money”. Too tall a hill, if you will. But the fight was never about that. The fight was about the unique non-political message of our candidate and the ever-turning wheels of the vehicle in which this grand movement is traveling. The messenger of this movement will say otherwise but there is no better example, no better mentor, no better delivery than what we’ve seen through this culture shift. If you followed the campaign even a little, or the legislature for the last 4 years, you know exactly what I’m talking about. A lot of you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, though, because it’s a quiet, yet effective push to make a difference and do what is right. It’s grace.

I moved to South Georgia on a whim and a prayer just 77 days ago to work in a capacity I didn’t understand, in a town I didn’t know for a cause that is still much larger than myself or anything I will ever be. I put fear, doubt, and everything known to me aside and trusted in the Lord’s plan for my life. It’s the most freeing feeling I’ve ever felt.

I woke up this post-election morning and panicked because it was 7:28am and I feared I would miss my morning 7:30a.m conference call with our team or still have my “morning voice” when I called in. But like the morning after a break-up, it was empty. When it’s abrupt and there’s no closure, we often want to place blame or find a “well, we should have…”,. I can’t find that in my heart. Only Grace.

I still rushed to get to the office because I wanted to be there–Our tiny nook just off what South Georgia calls a “highway”. Even in breaking down the office, I want it to reflect the same heart as the entire campaign. Only Grace.

I’ve never been prouder of a campaign, of a candidate or my own work.
I have nothing negative to say about the entire process, or “The Other Guys”, and I know that that isn’t always a gift we are granted the morning after an election. Only Grace.

The majority of the people in my life will never know the true impact that last 11 weeks have had on my life. I found a quiet confidence in myself, a renewed faith in my neighbors and an appreciation for the simple things. I see everything and everyone differently. My communication skills have been refined and my political ideology, though still unwavering, is more principled. I’ve built relationships with people who have turned my world right-side-up. Only Grace.

The majority of news outlets today will say that it “didn’t go our way”. I cant find one filter to look through that presents the situation in that light. Only Grace.

I can put my campaign shirt back on WITH A SMILE to go pick up 2,250 yard signs across 19 counties.

Only Grace.

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