According to Merriam-Webster, a surrogate is
- a : one appointed to act in place of another : deputy b : a local judicial officer in some states (as New York) who has jurisdiction over the probate of wills, the settlement of estates, and the appointment and supervision of guardians
- : one that serves as a substitute
- : surrogate mother
As a doula, this term is very familiar to me. However, when I was asked to be a surrogate last week for my friend and U. S. Congress candidate Ron Sanyal, I initially had mixed emotions. It was mostly fear, but I said yes.
With less than 48 hours to prepare, I didn't have time to be stressed or let fear set in about the task. Ron was holding a fundraiser on the same night as a candidate forum where he was invited to speak. Because he couldn't be in two places at once, I would be his surrogate at the candidate forum and speak on his behalf. Simple right? Well, sort of.
If you don't know, my husband, DeAntony Collins, officially began his political career last year. While this was only the beginning for him, I have been contemplating my own place in local politics as well. My husband introduced me to the world of politics almost 12 years ago and I have been immersed in it ever since. I still don't know as much as he does, but I am intrigued and attracted to the ever changing culture of politics to say the least.
So as you can imagine, I was not only nervous for myself, I was also nervous to represent my friend Ron and essentially my husband as well in a political role. If I blew this opportunity, it wouldn't just be me that would look bad.
Fast forward to the day of the candidate forum. I was up at the crack of dawn. I took my husband to work and my son to school. I taught my Zumba class, went to a business meeting and I ran some errands. It wasn't until early that afternoon that I began to practice what I was going to say. One of the reasons I said yes to this opportunity is because I need to work on my public speaking. I can be very timid and shy, especially if you put me in a room with people I don't know. But again, I said yes. I was committed to not only representing Ron well, but I wanted to impress my husband and myself too.
So what did I do to prepare and calm myself?
- listened to some of my favorite music
- did some vocal exercises
- went over my notes
- listened to talk radio and laughed
- received some encouragement from my husband
- showed up to the event early
- prayed (again)
With my husband having to go to his own event just down the street, he wouldn't be there to actually hear me speak on Ron's behalf. I was the second person in line to speak and it wasn't until I stood up that I tried to get nervous. I say 'tried' because I wouldn't let myself go to that place. I stood up straight in my beautiful peep toe pumps and just started talking. Before I knew it, I was halfway through my remarks. And then there was clapping. They were clapping. I had done it. Overall, I think I did pretty well. It wasn't perfect and I stumbled over a couple of words towards the end, but I think I did well. I believe that both Ron and my husband would have been very proud.
The next day I had a thought to write about this experience. But I was hesitant. There is often talk about mixing and discussing certain issues like politics and religion with business in the doula world. Will it turn off potential clients? Will it make me seem like I am trying to push my views on others? After thinking about it, I decided to not only write about my experience, but I wanted to share it because it is in fact an experience that helped me grow as a person, business woman and friend.
The truth is that I will be that doula who will talk about politics, religion, local and international issues that affect the world will live in. I am the doula who wants more for the families I help in my community. I am the doula who teaches Zumba in the mornings and goes to local community meetings in the evenings. I am the doula who cares for and prays for your children on Sundays in the church nursery. I am very proud of who I am as a person and doula and sometimes (not all the time) there will be crossover in my life. And I am just fine with that. Who knows, maybe one day I can be the doula for all of up and coming world leaders and politicians. I mean, why not?
Here is a short excerpt from my remarks and a photo of me while I was speaking:
"I have known Ron for a while now and he is a very humble and honest man. He has an amazing spirit and I believe he has the character and drive to serve in Congress and that is why I support him."