Sunday, March 09, 2014

Why Sarah Inspires Me

Thanks to a thoughtful friend, I had the opportunity to speak briefly with Sarah and her husband Todd last evening, after she gave an incredible keynote speech at this year's CPAC. 

I've attended several events to hear Sarah speak, but am always very cautious not to appear like some sort of fangirl, so I tend to stay out of the way and watch from afar while others rush her for that perfect photo op. This was not that kind of setting, and I fought back tears as I simply tried to say thank you, smile and move along so that others could have the same opportunity. 

I've often said I'd love the chance to just sit and visit with Sarah. I know we'd have much in common, and much to discuss. She's one in a million, but what makes her that 'one in a million' isn't that she's got gifts the rest of us don't have. Quite the contrary. The thing that makes Sarah special is that she is the one that's bold enough to say and do what others refuse to do. This is exactly what inspired me in 2008 when I first heard of the little known Governor of Alaska who was about to rock the world. Or, at least my world. 

I've often shared bits of my own story here, but as I stood there tonight trying to explain to my friend why this meeting she arranged was so special to me, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude. I began to shy away from blogging exclusively about Sarah not long after the 2008 election because I began to see some who followed her politics behave more like groupies than citizen journalists. While this may or may not have been the case, I felt like she had been so mistreated by the media that I was somehow adding to that by continuing to put her under such a microscope, so I backed off and began writing for Smart Girl Politics and pursuing other activities where I felt I could be more useful. In no way did I think she was less effective, I honestly personally felt like I should just leave her alone for a while. And so I did. 

Hearing her tonight reminded me why I was so moved by Sarah's story in the first place. Hers isn't so different than many across this nation, she's the wife of a wonderful hard working hubby, she's got five lovely children, she's a Christian, she loves the outdoors, she isn't afraid of guns, she saw a need in her community...the difference between Sarah and the rest of us is that once she saw that need, she stepped up and did something about it. The rest is history. 

I wonder if she has any idea what an impact she's had on both men and women across this nation? 

I began to hear Rush Limbaugh talk about Sarah just before Senator McCain announced that she would be joining the McCain ticket for President. I remember flipping channels the day he was supposed to make his announcement, and by that time, word was pretty much gospel that she would be joining the ticket. To say that the mainstream media lost their minds is a gross understatement. They went absolutely nuts. I remember yelling at the television, and beginning to do google searches on some of the crazy stuff they were spewing. It took almost no effort whatsoever for me to discover that, as I suspected, it was all lies. I kept telling the hubby that I had to do something. Anything. He suggested I do the thing I love to do most - write. And so I did. 

I began blogging sometimes multiple times daily, depending on the news of the day. I decided that even if I only reached three people with the truth about Sarah, and conservatism, that was okay. I asked God to bless my efforts, I gave the blog a name and I started writing. Only a few weeks would pass before the local newspaper discovered my blog...only a few more weeks before a cable news network picked it up, and I got to experience a taste of what hate mail and harassment is all about. I always wondered what it must be like for her if a mommy blogger like me received such treatment. 

The loss in 2008 was devastating, and the loss four years later was no less devastating. The battle we continue to wage is no less fact, it may be more important today than it has ever been. I believe it was Ben Carson who challenged the CPAC audience yesterday by saying that no, there isn't a George Washington or an Abraham Lincoln in America today...but there is you. And me. 

What Sarah taught me more than five years ago is that I, too, can make a difference. My voice may never reach the national stage like hers did, but I can make an enormous difference in my own community, in my own circle of influence. When I started, I knew virtually nothing about politics, and here I am today having researched and learned, blogged about politics for years, worked as a political consultant, editor and new media director,  all the while influencing my 15-year-old photography-loving daughter to do the same. 

Thank you hardly seems like enough to say to Sarah. Those two words hold more meaning than I could express in a mere minute or two meeting...but I sincerely hope that, by inspiring others, I can pay forward all that she's done for me. In many ways, I feel like Sarah - by being her bold, bad self - gave me my wings and taught me how to fly. That may sound a bit corny - ok, it sounds a lot corny, but few women in my life aside from my sweet mother have had the impact on my life that Sarah has. I am feeling incredibly grateful and deeply humbled tonight. 

God is good. 

Now, let's get to work taking this country back, shall we? 

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