Due to the holiday, we met on the morning of Wednesday July 5th after a fireworks display the night before that Mayor Ronnie felt was “the best ever.” Central Church of Christ, which is located right across the street from Athens High School Stadium, did their annual community cookout, and some people arrived at noon in order to get the best possible spot for viewing the stellar 13-minute pyrotechnic party to be held at nightfall. Both the cookout and the fireworks served to remind our town of our blessings, and our prayers certainly need to go up for the city of Chicago. “Hot time, summer in the city” seems to be what they are facing there in Chi-town, and lest we think it could never happen here, let’s humbly remember that it doesn’t take much to start a whole lot of trouble when people’s souls are hot and dry.
After we compared notes on our respective holidays, as well as Mayor Ronnie’s recent birthday, he whipped out a book that he felt would be the topic of possibly several installments of What Makes Ronnie Roll. It’s called “Hide Your Goat,” by Steve Gilliand. The subtitle is “Strategies To Stay Positive When Negativity Surrounds You.” The brand that is on the cover as well as throughout the book made me laugh out loud: it’s a truly gorgeous goat with a brown paper bag over its head. Hence, the visual reminder to not let people “get your goat,” or stated another way, for staying positive in the midst of flying schmutz—that of others or even your own. Be at peace, my dears, schmutz is simply a rich Yiddish word for “garbage or refuse.”
Steve Gilliland is a Hall of Famer when it comes to public speaking—everyone from Coca-Cola to Boeing, IBM, Marriott, and about 250,000 people a year get to hear about Steve’s mess-ups as a dad and husband back in the day when he allowed his “goat to be gotten.” It cost him dearly—including failed marriages and estrangement from his kids, and then he went to work to “get his goat” properly tethered. The result is a number of lessons that can improve the quality of life of every Athenian, which is one of the many purposes of this column. As I have so many times, I told Mayor Ronnie I was ordering my own copy, and I need to guard his autographed copy like the treasure that it is until mine arrives.
One of the things that Gilliland said in the foreword to Goat brought a lump to my throat. He is now happily married, is a successful step-dad, and has reconciled with his kids. He talks about all of them in his presentation, and his love for them is as palpable as the humor with which he tells their stories. Besides thanking his wife Diane, who has been through a lot with this chap, Steve says the following:
To my sons, Stephen and Josh, who have stood by my side in the midst of my most challenging times, I am forever grateful. Your unconditional love and support was my inspiration to change my life and to make you proud to call me “Dad.” To my stepsons Adam and Alex, who have provided me with a second chance to be a father, not just a parent, and who have taught me some valuable lessons: your strength during challenging times has been a great example of how to keep balanced in the midst of distress.”
Neither of us had really considered before that there can be a difference between being a parent and a father/mother. Hide Your Goat is challenging me to explore that difference and, as a mom and step-mom, excel at what I discover.
Mayor Ronnie had a meeting and I had a newspaper to put together, so we prayed for wisdom with our kids and spouses, and expressed anticipation and gratitude for all that is ahead. Then, it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner