I just finished serving 13 years as an elected official in my city. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I also loved it. During this service, I had the opportunity to run for election three times (and won all three, by the way). One of the things an elected official cannot help but have cross her mind is the fear of the effect her decisions would have on her ability to get re-elected. I am proud to say I did not base a single decision on how it would affect any future campaigns. Even though I made a successful and very conscious effort to avoid it, the “how will this affect me” thought did lay dormant in my mind.
I remember how I felt when I decided not to run for a fourth term. I thought, “Wow! There is a “freedom” here I have not had before!!” I found myself speaking my mind a little more and having even more courage. Again, even though I did not base decisions on future campaigns, not having that thought taking up brain space was liberating.
Before my husband died, I had a pretty healthy fear of death. After his and my mother’s death within about six months of each other, I no longer fear death. I am not afraid to live or die. Now, I am not going to go off and do stupid things, but now I REALLY live! Like the feeling I had when I decided not to run for re-election, I feel very liberated.
One of my favorite quotes is on my and my husband’s grave marker. That’s the thing about being the one who doesn’t die-you get to pick out the grave marker and what it looks like! It is from the movie Tuck Everlasting: “Do not be afraid of death, be afraid of the unlived life.” I am proud to say that I am not afraid of the former and I am definitely not having the latter.