On Personal Power and Bravery: Why I Am Running for State Senator.


In 2016, like many people around the world, and especially so being an American woman, I was stunned and appalled by the misogynistic tone of the U.S. presidential campaign.

We had a male reality TV personality running against arguably the most qualified candidate ever to be nominated for president in U.S. history, who happened to be a woman.

Well, we all know what happened next.

What I want to write about it is how it affected me personally and changed the trajectory of my life.

I am now running for the office of State Senator where I live in New Jersey, USA. The election will be held in November of this year.

Before 2016, I believed that people in political power possessed exceptional qualities that made them more fit than others to lead. The 2016 presidential election disabused me for good of that naive and under-reckoned position.

The events of the last year have shown me that as imperfect as I am, I can and must step into a leadership role in my community, my state, my nation and the world. Therefore, personal and global factors have coalesced to make me want to launch forward into a new public direction.

On the personal side, like most women, I have worked for years in order to recognize, confront and slay the cultural demons that have given me any sense of inadequacy or inequality. Through rigorous self-inquiry, along with Yoga and meditation, I have uncovered myself and my purpose in life.

I now own a personal power that radiates from authenticity, which makes me feel confident and brave enough to take risks. While this internal shift is taking place, a monumental change is simultaneously taking place in the world: our political dialog is growing increasingly darker and divisive.

The traditional American human values of compassion, truth, and service are coming under constant attack from a Trump presidency that intentionally appeals to the basest aspects of our human instincts, wherein life is an endless competition for scarce resources.

I feel compelled to lead now because I wholeheartedly believe that there is a more powerful and winning side of human nature: a desire for love, to live in community, and to feel connected to one another. I can no longer wait for someone else to champion these values; I’ve decided it must be me, and that it must be now.

Even before the 2016 presidential campaign, I had begun a process of spiritual and personal transformation. Politics is just the catalyst for allowing me to make my personal journey public. Over the last few years, I have been undergoing a process of transformation that started with persistent feelings of sadness and confusion. I rejected and denied these feelings for as long as I could.

Eventually, though, I was forced to turn fully toward them, fully accepting the pain they brought to me.

I digested this pain through Yoga, meditation, and psychotherapy. As I did so, I felt myself being carried along on a personal spiritual journey that led me to connect with my divine nature. In the end, I felt my intuition blossom and my connection to others deepen.

Along with these changes came a terrifying longing to be more than just a mommy, and along with that, a deep restlessness to create, grow, transform, and venture into uncharted territory. I felt completely and helplessly torn between this feeling that I needed to change, and the fear that I might hurt my husband and children by turning my attention away from home.

Despite my fear, I knew that I must begin to take baby steps toward self-acceptance and the dismantling of my old identity. In the past, I had been completely wrapped up in feelings of unworthiness and a desire to please others. It became agonizingly clear to me just how much of my life had been structured around avoidance and fear of not being who I really was.

There was a horrible, lost and lonely feeling that accompanied the realization that the love I had been seeking to make me feel safe, accepted and fulfilled, would have to come from inside of me. My whole definition of love would have to change, and I would have to become a regenerative source of self-love from which endless love for others flows.

In this way, my family life would not be one of obligation, but would become a joyful expression of my inherently loving soul.

At some point in this process, it started to feel less like I was taking baby steps and more like I was in a complete free-fall. Many times I had to fully surrender and drop to my knees (literally and figuratively) in utter confusion. I discovered that in these desperate moments, the rigid ego is most malleable. These are the moments when Divine Consciousness steps in to fill in the space that has opened.

I was gifted with so many conversations, coincidences, and moments that proved to me that profound confusion is not to be avoided and feared. Instead, it is a gateway to a more profound understanding and sense of beauty.

And here I am, on a completely new and unexpected journey. I never would have had the opportunity to run for office if I hadn’t given myself over to this transformational process that began years ago. My fragile ego needed to be retooled. I could no longer live as a feeble individual perpetually afraid of failure and judgment.

Now I must live plugged into a collective loving energy wherein my individuality is a robust expression of that love. Who I am as an individual really doesn’t matter any longer, so I am not afraid to take risks and fail. So long as I can live each day advancing the cause of love, and feel that I am alive and that I am fulfilled.

I am assuming that many people, like me, are feeling the same way right now. So let us unite, join together, and slay these cultural demons that debase the mothers and child-bearers of our world in favor of soulless egomaniacs.

Yes, importantly, in addition to being a politician, I am also proudly the mother of three children, a wife, and an avid Yoga practitioner and teacher.

Be strong, be courageous. Namaste!


Emma Mammano earned a B. A. in Psychology and Dance from Hamilton University, and then went on to study Clinical Child Psychology at Southern Illinois University. She later earned a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling. Emma has worked as a mental health counselor with numerous populations, including youths in residential treatment and adults in outpatient substance abuse settings. Emma is also an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) with Yoga Alliance, and teaches at Yoga studios throughout Ocean County, New Jersey.


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James Abro
James Abro is the author of six novels, a few books and a couple of plays. His latest book, An Odyssey in the Great American Safety Net, is a personal memoir of homelessness and recovery. Mr. Abro is on a mission to end homelessness in the community where he lives. He is also a regular contributor to The Center for American Progress blog Talk Poverty, and The Nation magazine.
James Abro
James Abro
James Abro