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Where does the expression “What gets your goat?” come from?

The most common story is that in older days goats were stabled with racehorses as calming company. A person with ill will and malicious intent might steal the goat before the race and the horse, upset and anxious, would race poorly.

Earlier this month I was driving by a local farm which pastures some 240 goats, and was led to think of what gets MY goat? And inspired to ask, what gets YOUR goat? How do we get them back?

What gets my goat? (Just to mention a few.)
What got my goat on February 15th was our president proclaiming a national emergency so he could build his border wall. My goat erupted in anger and leapt out of her corral, enraged at this new shocking abuse of power and disregard for the rule of law, another insult to what remains of our democracy. As one commentator put it, "It's like calling 911 because your pizza delivery is late."

What gets my goat is that Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader of the House, when referring to the Green New Deal, said, "The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they're for it, right?" This close-minded, dismissive attitude is not only disrespectful, but counter-productive at a critical time for humanity.

Excessive packaging, usually plastic, gets my goat, as does excessive, invasive advertizing.

What brings my goat back?
Good news brings my goat back.

On that same day of the “national emergency," my hair dresser told me that someone had told her, quite correctly, that cattle are a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. She said she would stop eating beef. Just the day before that a bipartisan measure was passed in the U.S. Senate to expand and create new national parks and monuments, and protect millions of acres from development and mining.

What brings my goat back is all the people who are working on all levels of life for justice, democracy, equity, and environmental protection. I am excited by all the students and young people who are rising up to demand action on climate change. See all about The Sunrise Movement.

I bring my goat back by reminding myself that my job is to be as kind and caring and loving and generous as I possibly can be. And do what I possibly can do to bring a new world into being. If I put out good energy in place of negative stuff, or do something caring and kind for someone else or myself or the planet, my goat will wander back to her corral through the open gate.

I should also add that it helps to have a tantrum from time to time: weep and wail, scream, throw things (that won’t hurt anything) to release the built-up energy.

Things are inevitably gonna get our goats. We just need to be sure to bring them home again.

My March Newsletter, Mincing No Words


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