I am ready for some crisp air and the gratefulness of harvest instead of holding my breath for whatever October Surprise is going to jump out from the fright-fest that is 2020.  As November 2nd stomps ever closer, I am finding it increasingly difficult to focus on daily activities as I am constantly interrupted by divisive politics, civil strife, and not to mention a mounting pandemic with its tagalong economic crisis.

Even my own children have been dragged into politics. The threat of losing their beloved TikTok has transformed my two youngest into political activists.  My college professors taught me that poets have always had an important role in revolutions and social change… but I have to admit I didn’t see TikTok coming.  Of course, many people were surprised to see Bob Dylan become a Nobel Laureate for literature.

We sat as a family watching the recent debates on TV, writing postcards encouraging other women to use their voice through their vote. Thing One and Thing Two may be too young to understand many of the political undercurrents, but their take-aways from both debates were equal parts hilarious and profound.

They took it for granted that a woman of color should be on the stage running for either President or Vice President.

My lessons in manners held and they were horrified about the breaches of etiquette and the lack of decorum: “Mom, why does he keep interrupting? I thought they were supposed to answer the questions?”

I have raised (or helped raise) a handful of bright, strong-willed young people. These children, raised on Harry Potter and Hunger Gamesknow they can change the world against all odds. I have a son who is a police officer and a daughter-in-law who is a first responder. My niece/ goddaughter serves her community at a pharmacy while getting her medical degree. They each believe in making a difference, choosing lives of service that make an impact each and every day. It is disappointing to me that these children set a better example than many adults running for political office, but I do my best to shift their focus to the changes we are privileged to witness.

I put on my new virtual-at-home-teacher-hat and remind my kids that the United States currently has 11 women governors (2 territories and 9 states). That may not seem like very much out of 50 States and 5 territories but – with only 44 in all of our nation’s history – 25% of our countries total women governors right now? This year 300 women won their primary race for Congress; 50 of those women are women of color. It is not enough, but it is a move in the right direction. This momentum is statistically significant. I am still waiting for us to join most of the world’s leading nations who have had a woman head-of-state.  (Panama, Canada, France, Germany, UK, China, India, Sweden, Denmark, Finland….)

The “mom-entum” is not just in politics. The Nobel Prize is awarded to “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” This year there were 4 women laureates: Andrea Getz for Physics; Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for Chemistry; and Louise Pluck for Literature. This is an astounding shift from years and decades past. This one year of 2020 – saw more women Nobel Laureates than in the 19-year span between 1941-1960 (only 3). That is an improvement and it is proof: when women have both the opportunity and a seat at the table, our collective voice will make the world a better place.

So while the political season is distracting, I have to focus on my job. I am Mom, Wife, CEO, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Niece, Aunt. There are incredible bright spots in my life, provided by my children already “launched” into the world and by my children still in the nest. I spend time each day with the youngest two, encouraging their curiosity, passion, and compassion. At work, I have the privilege of working alongside some of the brightest minds in our industry. I can set an example by encouraging my company to participate in our election process by my own participation and with paid time off to vote and volunteer to help the election process.

The leaves have started to turn – those red spots in the trees are not trees on fire – they are the beginning of change. Soon it will be a riot of color. In the musical lexicon, it is a key change.

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