It took me a while to put together this letter, I admit. I have struggled more lately than any other time during the pandemic, and the positive words just wouldn’t come.

I even had a couple of those days where the normal Monday through Friday grind just didn’t seem worth it. And I indulged it a little. I made chocolate chip cookies and ate the batter. I eschewed the shower in favor of mindless T.V. on the couch. But I tried not to give in to the tide of hopelessness too much; I know it can suck the unsuspecting under in a heartbeat.

My husband, however, doesn’t suffer from my self-awareness. He is blessed with an even temper and is content almost all the time. If he doesn’t get overly excited about much, he doesn’t get upset easily, either. He really is my perfect foil. But even this solid, generally happy man has had to pause and reassess. He has had to review his sleeplessness, teeth-grinding and other subtle signs to understand that even he, in all his stoic-ness, is not immune.

Realizing it is step one. Step two probably looks different for everyone. Find a hobby, do some self-care, exercise, indulge, don’t indulge. What works for you might drive me crazy. But maybe the biggest key is that pause between realization and action. When you stop and decide to create that course of action, I think that is the moment when you start to heal a little bit. The universe gets a little more right-side-up.

Dan England’s column, “Tips from the Trail,” underscores this when he talks about goal setting for the new year. While England’s goals are far loftier than “will I wash my hair today,” his principles are great for anyone who has made the decision to move onward and upward. And I would hazard that there are few people who will regret leaving 2020 behind. I know I won’t.

We are also continuing our push to support local businesses in this issue. Though we are moving toward a hopeful end to this pandemic, January and February will still be a struggle for so many of our dear businesses. Keep them close in mind: while it might be easy to join the long line turning into Raising Cane’s for chicken fingers, it is certainly more meaningful to make the trek to one of the Best Of NOCO mom and pop fried chicken purveyors. Those mom and pops already know the importance of spending their dollars locally, so they look for the local plumber or gift shop when they need something.

So, I think I am over the hump. I know January and February will be a challenge, but I am feeling more hopeful for 2021. I certainly hope to carry the lessons of 2020 with me, but I am also ready to embrace life again. I hope you are, too.

See you next month!

Angie Grenz