In Alumni in Action, Beth Boardman

Get Out the Way: The Power of a Grandma
by Beth Anne Boardman, PhD

Without getting into politics (cue hysterical laughter), per se, I would like to relate my wobbly path through current events.
Basically, I loathe politics. And I am now a political activist.


So here’s what happened: For some reason, I could not/would not/wanted not to get out of bed for two days, November ninth through tenth, 2016 (for other non-politically minded folk, whom I hope voted, nevertheless, those were the two days following the United States general election.)

The personalities involved in the Presidential Election of 2016, and one in particular, evoked in me plentiful unpleasant, even distressing emotions. I felt powerless, angry, defiant, disgusted, sorrowful, and slowly filled with a creeping dread. Whatever one may think of these emotions, no thoughts of mine could stop them. Following the teachings of Marion Woodman, depth psychology’s wonderful and beloved teacher of listening to soma, I paid attention to my feelings, and especially how they expressed themselves in my body.
One thing really surprised me: I found myself waking up in the middle of the night, curled into a ball—not a fetal position—a sideways crouch, tensed up in the shoulders, as though in a defensive posture. I could not actually fathom that I could have been sleeping so wadded up with tension! This told me something serious was going on inside me, and that I needed to listen carefully. My body communicated fear to me, not just grief or anger.

Now, being a mom (and a recent grandma!), I have developed a bit of Lioness energy over the years. Or Mama Bear energy. Whichever, I can get riled and spring into action when my children face threats – or I did when they faced them; they’re both grown adults now and out springing me, certainly. On becoming a grandma, I felt a resurgence of protective concern, not only for my new wee grandbaby, but also for all children and for the busy young mothers and fathers in the world. Children’s issues and rights have been a lifelong passion for me, and formed an important basis to my dissertation. For me, children’s issues are woven in with my concerns for women’s issues, parental leave, the maintenance of clean water and air, access to health care, education costs, and more.

Reflecting on my physical reactions, I realized I felt distress. I also realized that I needed to take some concrete action to acknowledge and treat this distress. These actions might not seem Lioness-like, but I needed to start somewhere: first, I changed my party registration and then I got off FaceBook, and away from its (in my opinion) bogus algorithms. Through other social media and news outlets, I began to see items about the Women’s March on Washington. Now that excited me!

What excited me more was watching it take shape over the month of December – the webpages, the cooperation between diverse individuals and organizations, the welcoming of all gender identities, the focus on voicing concerns in a constructive, visible, and peaceful manner.
I have never been an activist. I’ve signed online petitions now and then, and I attended a protest once, many years ago. But as I watched the Women’s March blossom across the world, I knew my inner tide had turned, and I was about to find my Grandma Power.

I took action: I went online and registered for the San Francisco Sister March. Then I got together with my family, and we all went – men, women, grandmas, and children! It worked without planning. The baby was happy. The parents were well rested. Grandma brought her umbrella and walking shoes. In other words, unforeseen events combined to create the perfect day for Baby’s First March! What a glorious, happy experience. As Bill Murray once said, “Cats and dogs, living together!” It was perfectly hippy-era cooperation, activation, sans all the drugs.

Along the way, we met anti-abortion activists, pro-choice activists, heterosexuals, varietalsexuals, democrats, republicans, old folk, babies, and folk with all shades of hair-color and skin color. Seriously, it was gloriously San Francisco. Twenty thousand were expected, 40,000 attended. To be among the throng of concerned folk, especially in the company of my cherished family, was an elixir for my hurting heart.

The Women’s March was the inspiration of a grandma, a retired lawyer in her sixties, and a selfdescribed never-been-an-activist. In asking herself what she could do with her emotions after election day, she jotted off a half-baked idea: “women need to march!” This spontaneous notion was shared with her neighbors and friends on her FaceBook page, and her idea took flight across FaceBook, Twitter, the interwebs, oh my goodness!

The (fabulously brilliant) planners behind the Women’s March knew they could not let the threads drop and trail off into nothing after January 21st, so they networked, brainstormed, and sought input for “next steps,” which I found by noodling around on their website post-march.

Whatever your political leanings, whatever your stance on current issues, I hope you will become active in your neighborhood. Make sure to vote. Encourage other registered voters to vote. Call your representatives, or go online and let your voice be heard. And make sure to do your own online research on your chosen topics, and check the viability/authority of the sources you use. Get involved in local politics, water boards, school boards, city councils, bring a friend!

Here are all the sources I’ve used to stay involved and active – these resources may appeal to only some of you, but like I said, I hope you’ll find your own ways to take actions on the issues important to you. Go grandmas! Go peeps! Go!

Action Resources

Womens March on Washington – website, newsletter, and/or smartphone app

  • provides suggestions for daily/weekly actions
  • provides lots of resources for first-time activists, including a printable guide
  • has page on “womens march huddles” so concerned individuals can find others locally
  • provides suggested agendas for huddle organizers

Indivisible Guide – website, news alerts

  • a practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda
  • former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.

5 Calls – website, newsletter, smartphone app

  • provides phone numbers and scripts so calling is quick and easy
  • uses your location (with your persmission) to find your local representatives so your calls have more impact

Countable – website, newsletter, smartphone app

  • daily updates on your lawmakers and key developments on the issues you care about.

People Power – website, newsletter

  • provided volunteer lawyers to represent detainees during first ‘muslim ban.’
  • assists individuals in assessing the constitutionality of their local migrant policies
  • a new program of the ACLU focused on volunteers taking action when the administration attempts to enact unconstitutional policies or compromise people’s constitutional rights
  • primary concerns: first amendment rights, reproductive rights, immigration, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, voter registration/suppression issues

Other resources

  • swingleft/take back the house –
  • (taking place 4-15-2017)
  • (taking place on earth day 4-22-2017)

And finally:
Here’s why you should call, not email, your legislators

Beth Anne Boardman, RN, MA, PhD lives in California and New Hampshire. She travels and lectures on the Mythology of Sport; Women and Myth; and the Alchemy of Adolescence (her dissertation topic), in addition to consulting as a writer to websites. Recently, Beth has served on the board of the Pacifica Graduate Institute Alumni Association and as Regional Coordinator for local alumni. Her career spans work as a registered nurse, the study of world dance and music, and the profound joy of raising two children. Beth’s writings may be found at and

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