I think I first saw Patricia Ireland in person at a Planned Parenthood luncheon with my mom in the late 1980s. She was the President of the National Organization for Women, which at that time was a really big deal. NOW had INFLUENCE back then as one of the prime organizers behind the 50-state effort to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. When NOW supported a candidate, it meant something. And when NOW made a decision to NOT support any candidate in a race, they made that known… and it meant something. Patricia Ireland was NOW for me.
A decade or so later, I got to work for her as the National Conference Director for NOW, organizing her last conference as President in 2000, when this picture was taken.
I will never forget my first day in that job. I was sitting at my desk filling out my paperwork and she walked in, extended her hand and said, “Hi! I’m Patricia.”
Me: “I KNOW!”
I learned SO much in that job, from so many women all over the country. It was my introduction to activism, organizing, event planning, fundraising and nonprofit management. It was my introduction to a whole history of poor people’s activism, indigenous people’s activism, disability rights, LGBTQ activism beyond the AIDS crisis, and the labor movement. I loved NOW because it worked in ALL those areas, because ALL of those issues were (and are) “women’s issues.” All of those issues are feminist issues. It laid the groundwork for the career I pursued next, organizing and advocating on a wide range of issues all over Texas.
Over the next decade, I put 300,000 miles on my car driving ALL OVER TEXAS attending labor union meetings and fish fries, farm worker marches, meeting with women’s rights groups, environmental activists, immigrant rights groups, health care providers, teachers, autoworkers, steelworkers, students, PTAs, school boards, superintendents, nuns and clergy … so many groups! So many issues.
I learned the tactics: insider tactics, outsider tactics; direct action, protests, marches, press conferences, lobbying, policy making, rules and regulations.
One thing all the groups working on all the issues had in common — regardless of whether they were chaining themselves to fences or desk-bound analyzing policy and drafting legislation — was a passion for their cause that drove them to work to complete exhaustion, the kind that hits you before you even know it. This kind of exhaustion can take you out of that important game.
Lessons I learned the hard way.
This is where I come in now. With BeCause, my goal is to bring healing embodied practices to these groups working for change: meditation, somatic awareness, breath work, and yoga. Activists and advocates need to re-learn how to feel what they feel in their bodies. They can’t just go around being outraged all the time, running on impulse, empathy and anger. Integrating embodiment into their work will make them better at what they do by bringing their own humanity back into the equation of this change we do FOR humanity’s sake. Teaching them to rest when needed. Take a breath. Pause. Rethink. Resume.
We need them in the fights, and they need us. They need yoga. You need yoga. BeCause has got you covered.
Stay tuned for a new weekly schedule of in-person public classes in San Antonio. Your monthly subscription to BeCause will support my work with the groups AND give you access to the yoga you need. It’s all for a good Cause. Be the Cause.