By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
It had been two weeks full of wins: the Home & Garden Show was a great success, Chili Challenge was bursting at the seams with attendees, and the Athens-Limestone Community Association’s 5th Annual Black History Month celebration was a total delight. “Given how polarized our country is right now, it is nice to know that people in Athens are coming together,” said the mayor.
Mayor Ronnie was getting ready to leave the next day for the Big Apple. He and a finance team were going to make a presentation regarding securing funding for the new Rec Center. You may recall, the last time they went to New York City, Birmingham/Jefferson County had just made national news by declaring bankruptcy, and the lenders were initially certain that Athens-Limestone County had been cut from the same cloth. Because of the soundness of fiscal practices in our city along with an excellent presentation, they came home with a funding package for the new high school. Mayor Ronnie was confident that the team would return home this time with good news as well; still, high finance meetings in New York are not a walk in the park, and he was looking forward to getting back home as soon as possible.
We turned to the discussion of the title of the series, Enjoy The Ride. It was about attitude, and the mayor was glad to be having a reminder of the fact that, as author Steve Gilliand says, “Your attitude is either your best friend or your worst enemy. Your reactions to other people, however, are really just barometers for how you perceive yourself. Your reactions to others say more about you than they do about others.” Gilliand says it again later in the chapter more briefly: “Our attitude determines our approach to life. Nothing is as contagious as example.”
We then discussed the role of adversity when it comes to determining attitude. “No one likes failure,” said the mayor, and I nodded. “But fumbling is a part of football, and failing is a part of success,” he said, and that’s a quote from the book. I then had an unusually powerful opportunity to personally fail, and to test the mayor’s attitude. I am fairly well-known for talking with my hands, and as I gestured while we were talking about attitude and failure, I managed to knock over my coffee, soak the mayor’s autographed copy of Enjoy The Ride, ruin the copy of the presentation that he would make in NYC, and create a pool of java all over the round table in his office where we always sit. It was the perfect storm. I ran to find some paper towels, cleaned up my mess, and he will have a reminder forever of the chance he had to “bring his own sunshine.” This wasn’t just any book I had inadvertently baptized, it had been autographed by the author at a conference the mayor had attended with other mayors. I am pleased to report that Mayor Ronnie passed the test with flying colors. He could tell I felt badly, and he assured me all was well.
So, there was nothing left to do but pray, and pray we did. And then, it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner