Why I Became a Midlife Activist

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Gee, I love my kids. You would think that as children grow up and fly away from the nest, one would get over the initial infatuation. Not so. I lovingly remember my kids as babies, young children and even teenagers, but that's not what tugs at me as I sit here in my empty nest. What I love so much are the people those little ones became. I love their independence in their new lives, how they choose to express themselves, and their fresh confidence and strength -- they absolutely take my breath away.

My son, daughter and son-in-law are on the brink of everything. The journey that lies ahead as they inch closer and closer to... dare I say... creating families of their own, is wide open.

Take My Breath Away

My son is taking a yoga class. He is inspired to share with me his discovery of noticing his breath. Just like I eyed him breathing in and out when he was a sleeping infant under my mom's handmade quilt, now this tall, handsome young man is teaching me the importance of harnessing my breath. He reminds me that in the day-to-day balance of work as a climate activist and taking care of my empty nest, I sometimes forget to breathe -- to stop and let this vital air wash over and renew me. Of course, I know exactly what he's talking about. Not only have I dabbled in yoga for years, like him, I yearn for clean air to restore my body as I continue to grow.

Really, he takes my breath away.

Breathe In

I still worry. I worry about the things I can see, like the uptick in illnesses among my friends at mid-life. I also worry about the things I can't see, like breath-altering pollution that causes asthma and climate change.

So in my mid-50s, I changed course and decided to devote my work life to ensure we stop pumping unlimited amounts of climate pollution into the air -- our children and grandchildren's air.

And you know what? My work makes me feel optimistic!

Recently, my hope was renewed when the president announced the Clean Power Plan. This plan sets the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the nation's largest source of climate pollution emissions. The Clean Power Plan sends a clear message to the rest of the world that we care about the health of our families, the safety of our neighborhoods, and our planet.

I put aside a severe fear of public speaking (believe me, my knees get weak just thinking about it) and traveled from New York to Washington, DC and Denver, to testify in support of this historic plan. The Clean Power Plan reflects unprecedented input from Americans, including 4.3 million comments.

The Clean Air Act protected the air, water and land for 40 years. With climate change now causing more severe temperature increases, dangerous sea level rise, and ferocious storms, our kids need this plan for the next 40 years and beyond.

Breathe Out

I love my kids and I love my country. No matter how old kids become, parents are passionate. And when someone messes with the kids -- watch out. Just as our parents protected us when the Clean Air Act was first passed in 1970, now it's our turn to help reduce carbon pollution.

What do you want to take your breath away -- spewing power plants, or your incredibly amazing children and grandchildren? No matter what political persuasion, we all share the air -- and we all need it clean. I want it for my babes, and I want it for yours.

So as a climate activist and a mom, I invite you to join me, and over a half a million members of the Moms Clean Air Force, in securing a cleaner, safer future.

What calls you to action?