Tall Poppy Diaries

Observations and musings on life as a happy high-achiever (or what the Aussie's call a "Tall Poppy" ). "Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have." --Oprah Winfrey

Monday, November 08, 2004


  They Inspire Me...

As you know if you read my blog, I spend every Monday volunteering at my boys' school for the day. So my time is short, but I wanted to write tributes to two people who inspired me to be a little better, a little more, this weekend--Chasmyn and Congressman Charlie Stenholm of Texas.
First, I want to thank Chasmyn for the huge wake-up call I got from reading her blog last week. I cried for two hours. It was painful beyond anything I had expected from a blog entitled Purple Goddess in Frog Pyjamas. People always tell me what a great mom I am. I smile and thank them for the compliment, and carry on--we're all just doin' what we can. However, on Friday, I read Chasmyn's heart through her posts about her gorgeous little boy, Quinn, whom she lost to a heart defect last year.

Heart disease runs rampant in my family--on both sides. When the Utah Heart Association asked me to chair the Heart Ball several years ago, I was concerned that the public sees Heart Disease as an old man's problem. So we changed the focus to pediatric heart disease and defects. We used pictures of children on our invitations, our publicity and our programs. As a result, we are changing the face of Heart disease and defects as well as interest in funding research here. Unfortunately Quinn's treatment, like thousands of others each year, didn't end successfully.

However, Chasmyn's struggle with her grief and her courage in telling Quinn's story have inspired me to be a better mom. It made me realize just how lucky I am to have my two (mostly) healthy boys with me every day. She inspired me to be a little more patient, a little more available, and a little less loud when I fussed at them for things like saying "b-tthead" (I HATE that word), taking 10 minutes to put their socks on, and choosing to go through their seashell collections this morning instead of getting dressed for school.

Yes, I'm still going to insist on their following the rules, minding their manners and being considerate of others who are trying to get to school before lunchtime. But since reading Chasmyn's blog, I find that I catch myself everytime I feel a scream coming, and change it into that "I'm so disappointed in you" tone that works well in public and tricks everyone else into thinking that I never raise my voice. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Chasmyn. You are changing my life--and the lives of two little children in my home.

Next, our longtime friend
Congressman Charlie Stenholm of Texas, became a casualty of the very controversial and lopsided redistricting plan that the Texas Republican Party forced through last year. As a former dues-paying member of The Texas State Society, the daughter of a fifth generation Texan and the granddaughter of a man who gave tens of thousands of dollars to the Texas Republican Party before his death (need I remind you that, in theory, that was my $$, too?), I feel justified in saying that I pity those in charge who feel that the end always justify the means AND those of you who, through your votes, condone such behavior. I truly pity you.

Charlie is one of the finest public servants I have ever known. He represents all that is good about public service in a time where zealotry has replaced the desire to give back as the number one reason to run for public office. Charlie never sought credit for the hundreds of hours he spent working across the aisle with Republicans to seek the best possible outcome for his constituents and for our country. He knew that the legislation he worked tirelessly on would bear the names of his Republican colleagues--and that was OK with him. He was just doing his job.

When other conservative Democrats chose to switch parties in order to gain more power and influence with the party in charge, Charlie chose to stay on the Democratic side. Not because the views of his party reflected his own, but rather because he felt SO strongly that it was best for The People to have conservative voices on both sides in order to reach a viable compromise and move the process along.

In 1994, Charlie and a few other Conservatives (including Hubby) formed The Blue Dog Conservative Democrat Coalition so that both sides would have a voice in our country's future through cooperation with their colleagues across the aisle. In the last decade, the Coalition has worked tirelessly (Mostly with moderate Republicans like the little known "Tuesday Lunch Bunch") to iron out compromises that strengthened vital legislation for the good of all.

Unfortunately, as the two major parties become more and more polarized from the citizenry they supposedly represent, the party leadership sends the radicals on both ends of the spectrum to DC to represent a citizenry that is by and large more centrist than radical. And so those representatives who truly represent We The People are being forced out of Congress in favor of a group of "Yes" men and women who vote their party leadership's consciences rather than their own.

Charlie Stenholm was a Great Negotiator--A Great Coalition Builder. He exemplified to me all of the traits of what a true PUBLIC servant should be. He refused to get in the gutter with his political opponents. He was respected by Members on BOTH sides of the aisle. He will be sorely missed by those of us who believe that legislation should be written for the good of all, not just those with the deepest pockets. And his example will be missed by those who will serve in his stead. Unfortunately, it seems that they were too caught up in Party Politics to notice...but I, as an Independent did. And I thank Charlie for his great example of how to be a truly Independent Voice and gracious servant of the people.

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