Purple Planet Web Design has moved to Colorado, along with Northstar Horse Rescue. I have decided to stay here with my ventures, due to a job offered to me at Parelli Natural Horsemanship after the election.
After much thought and deliberation, I am announcing that I will resign the office State Representative in District 93 this coming week. I am moving out-of-state for professional and personal opportunities that have developed since the election, but it is with a heavy heart that I leave Knox County and the midcoast region. It has been a privilege to serve the people of Rockland and Owls Head over the last two years. I want to thank the residents of the district for the honor of serving them in Augusta. I look forward to helping during this transition time thank everybody for allowing to me to serve our communities
I believe it was Gloria Steinem who said that the personal is political. I have often tried to compare political decisions to those made by a family, because I believe that our community is a family, and no matter whether we are deciding to spend money in an 8 million dollar or a 20 thousand dollar budget, decisions must be made based on whether we will still be able to afford groceries after we spend on a project. You cannot build beautiful brick sidewalks and renovate buildings if it means that you are going to tax your residents out of their homes to pay for it, any more than you can put in that new granite countertop and thereby put yourself in so much debt you can barely afford groceries.
Recent years have not seen Rockland, or the State of Maine, in a position to expand into new projects due to our lagging economy. It would seem, therefore, that budgets should be cut in these times, however, our current chief executive’s way to cut those budgets is to put more of the burden on the property tax payers, cutting broad-based taxes and corporate taxes. It’s a shell game, so that it can be portrayed that taxes are being cut for all, however, it’s simply a shift onto the municipalities, meaning, the property tax payers. We’ve heard quite a bit about raids on revenue sharing and shifting tax burdens.
We’ve also heard quite a bit about welfare fraud and abuse of DHHS as a reason for our state financial woes. The message being that our state is being bankrupted by unscrupulous individuals who are playing the entitlement system. It’s a compelling message in tough times, and Governor LePage has hammered it hard. There is a statewide culture of hatred toward the poor that has been brewed as a result. Rather than positive messages of hope and helping one another, the people of our state have been encouraged to report any abuse of EBT cards that may be witnessed in what has amounted to be a witch hunt. It is easy in tough times to scapegoat. To focus blame. It also seems strangely difficult for the leaders of my own party to throw down the gauntlet and expose this very careful public image manipulation for what it really is: a distraction from policies at the top level that serve to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. However, if we are a human family, and if the least among us are not fed, clothed, and shown hope and a better way of life, then the family is not whole. Yet the Maine State Legislature persists in days-long arguments over whether disadvantaged children should have access to free lunch during the summer, rather than addressing policies that could change the social inequity that keeps those children where they are.
I’ve fought very hard over the years for those who do not have a voice, because I know what it is to be voiceless. I know what it is to not have food, heat, or the money for the rent. I know what it is to have to pretend that everything is okay so that my children feel safe and secure, when meanwhile, the bank is about to foreclose on my home. I know what it is to fight like a wildcat because my will to survive and ensure that my children will be successful is stronger than anything that could ever stand in my way. And this is why I have always stood up and slugged like I do. I have suited up, shown up, gotten myself college educated, kept the house from being taken by the bank, kept children fed any way I could, and eventually, finally, had a professional job, was your state representative, had a partner who helped me pay off the house, and a family. I started a non-profit horse rescue, worked away at school and at my politics, and thought I was going to do that for the rest of my life.
Life, however, has a way of happening when you are making plans. Maybe I’m not supposed to be a real person, and definitely, the newspapers are more interested in gossip than actual investigative reporting. It turns out that I waited seventeen years for someone to decide to marry me and he decided not to. It’s just how it is. I’m old fashioned. I believe in fairy tale love. He doesn’t. Whatever. It’s not a big deal. He’s not a bad person, it’s just how it is. We are still a family. I could have decamped to my place in Owl’s Head, which I did for a while, but nothing in my life was coming together. In my professional life as a teacher, I was terrifically unhappy. Administration at the high school had taken a very different philosophical turn than that with which I feel comfortable: I did not want to work in an environment where dog searches are being conducted and people are walking around with walkie talkies. I couldn’t sleep for months after finally facing the facts about my relationship, which meant I could never make it to work on time for the battery of meetings at 6:40 am in which the various educational fads of the day were being discussed. If you are a teacher, you know what I mean. Public education just can’t seem to keep it simple, stupid. Some people may take offense at this statement, but, we have a failing education system. Someone, someday, is going to have to tear the thing apart and tell the truth about the monolithic and out of control beast that is public education in Maine. Instead of spending weeks and months “unpacking a standard from the Common Core”, we need to find out what makes students want to learn. Spark their interest and creativity. I don’t care if you’ve got a kid who only wants to read motorcycle magazines- if that student can’t read, and that’s what the student wants to read, then read the freaking motorcycle magazines because a person only learns what they want to know, a person only seeks education when their heart is set on fire.
So in short I was miserable. Banging my head against the wall. What is the purpose of my life? What am I even doing? Everywhere I go, everyone wants me to fix their problems and yet I don’t have what I need for myself on board. I hurt, I’m crying all the time, and I’ve got to put on a happy face and pretend I am strong. All the things I was supposed to be, but was I really helping anyone? Was I really solving any problems? Was I really changing the world?
It was really my son who saved my butt. I have two amazing children and three incredible step children. My son is the last at home, and he said to me, mom, you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take. He and I talked and talked about doing what we need to do in life, and taking chances. He’d been out here to Colorado on a Trekkers trip (by the way, please support Trekkers, it is a lifeline of sanity and amazing experiences and growth for so many young people) and he knew I would love it here. He was brave, and he pushed at me to do what I needed to do. He grew up a little bit more than he was planning on, so that I could find my way again. He’s coming out soon to ski and I can’t wait. My children are really the work that I will leave behind in this world: the children are the solution to every problem this old world has, and that’s why we have to raise them right. I am unabashed in my conviction that my children are phenomenal, incredible people who will change the world.
My kids probably won’t like it that I am writing a somewhat personal letter to thousands of people, but, I’m me and I have to tell my own story. Sorry, guys. You know how I am.
Okay, so, why Colorado?
I came here to see Cavalia this past October, which is like Cirque du Soleil only with horses and dancers. I am a horsewoman, and a natural horsemanship student. I am also a dancer. I wanted to see what Cavalia did with aerial and trapeze and pole acrobatics and horses, with dance, and with theater. It was astoundingly moving, and Denver, where the show took place, stole my heart. Denver is one of the most civilized cities I have ever visited. There are bikes you can rent for a nominal fee, and ride from one end of the city to the other, and when you reach your destination, you can park the bike in a rack and leave it there. There is an urban stream that runs through the city called Cherry Creek, with a lovely bike path beside. Pedestrian access is superb, biking is encouraged, and you can organize your life quite happily without a car, having access to excellent cafes, organic grocery stores, and enough grit here and there to keep it real. For example, no one seems to mind that the local adult store is mingled in with the other shops, and mothers wheel their babies by on the way to yoga and it’s a free country, so if I’m not bothering you, then don’t bother me.
After a while in Denver, I took a trip down to the Four Corners region, to a town called Pagosa Springs. I wanted to visit a friend there, and I had an opportunity to talk to someone at Parelli Natural Horsemanship about some web development work, which I planned to do remotely from Maine once I returned.
The drive down to Pagosa from Denver was probably the most mind altering and healing seven hours I’ve experienced in a while. I had never seen mountains like the Rockies before, and now here I was, driving over and through them in a tiny four cylinder Hyundai that could barely chug over the passes at twenty miles per hour. I had to keep stopping to take pictures of rainbows bursting through fog bursting through brilliant blue light, the shimmering and shifting russet colors of the grasses in the valleys between the mountains, the emptiness, the starkness, the total aloneness I felt, and yet I felt happier and more connected to God than I could ever remember. I cried, I laughed, I played Justin Timberlake as loud as I could get the stereo, I danced, I ran down hills off the side of the road and flung myself in the grass beside astounded cows and horses and gazed at the mountains. My friend in Pagosa Springs kept messaging me: where ARE you? But truly, I didn’t care anymore, I was just one with the earth again. She messaged me back: take your time, dinner will be ready when you get here. I made it to Pagosa through a series of mountain passes that seemed like the Himalayas to me, and in a pouring torrent of desert rain the girl from Maine arrived.
I actually didn’t mean to stay in Pagosa Springs. I had just won the election, and my plan was to develop remote opportunites with Parelli so that when I returned to Maine, I could resign from my teaching position and get back to freelance web development work. However, when I stopped in at Parelli Natural Horsemanship (www.parelli.com) the director of the IT department was holding her head in her hands, because one of her lead developers had just five minutes before given notice. She looked at me and said, when can you get here? She offered me a good salary in a great place where I could pursue my horsetraining dreams. But could I really do it? I thought about five horses, one dog, a house full of stuff, five acres of fencing, and I said, well, I’ll be here in a month.
I love my job- I’ve gotten a salary jump as a result, and I’m surrounded by really good people, who are supporting me in doing the work I know how to do, and putting my life together. I’m also advancing my horse training skills, and ultimately hope to become a Parelli instructor. I”m also finishing my Pilates teaching certification- I am writing this while sitting in a Starbucks in Boulder, about to go take my certification test- and I will be able to teach Pilates at our gym at Parelli. Check out our website and what we do- it’s a worldwide company, a philosophy, a way of life.
It’s very hard to be on my own. I miss my kids a lot. I miss my community. It’s a very strange experience to come to a place where no one knows you after being someone that everyone knows, but I needed the spiritual experience of stripping my ego and returning to a simple life. I know there are a lot of people who will not get why I did what I did, and many people may even be angry with me, and that’s why I am trying to write a personal letter to you: because I care very much about all of you, but ultimately, we can all lead. It doesn’t have to be me right now. Remember the lesson of geese: they take turns breaking the wind for each other. I just need to fall to the back of the flock for a while and let other people break the wind for me. Beat your wings and you will fly.
It was not simple to move five horses across country. I was very fortunate that a Parelli Four Star Instructor and her husband offered to come out and move me across country. They were very experienced haulers, and we had a successful trip. We stayed at horse hotels across the way, which was a story in and of itself. I have one horse, Satchel, a gelding who was surrendered to the rescue with one of his main issues being that he would not trailer. Well, Satchel now trailers. Hours and hours of standing in freezing temperatures, pouring rain, and Teri, the woman helping me, patiently repeating to me: Lizzie, this is not about the horse. If we have to stand here all day and go no where until you work out what is going on, then that’s what we are going to do. Well, Satchel and I are now trailering champions. It’s funny how the horses are- I have one big mare, Graduate, who loves to trailer. She’s like a labrador. She sees that trailer and she runs over and hops right on, because she loves to go places, and would contentedly munch her alfalfa mush and gaze at the passing landscape out her window all day long. Through the horses I have learned much about my own human failing and how to work through my own character deficiencies.
I did put in a bill before I left: An Act to Improve Conditions at the Maine State Prison. If you follow my Facebook wall, you will read some contrasting opinions and feelings about prisoners. I receive a bit of mail from prisoners there, and they tell me that I am one of the few people who ever listens to or responds to what is going on, and so I knew I had to submit a bill. It’s a pretty overwhelming situation, and somehow I plan to remain involved. There will most likely be a study group created by the legislature, and I hope that many of you might become involved and challenge your thinking about incarceration, basic human dignity, and justice.
Eventually I will lead again- after all, we don’t chose to be leaders. For example, Colorado does not have a bottle bill. There are many opportunities to lead, both big and small, for all of us, on a daily basis.
I still have a place in Owl’s Head where I can land if I need to, and you’ll see me again.
Thank you for putting your faith in me over the years and giving me the opportunity to learn, grow, and lead.