From the Associate Publisher: A Panoply of Change
The time is especially right for encouraging words
The past year has been a transformational one, and while the big, hairy change agent has been a calamitous global health crisis, we have evolved in positive ways, inside and out.
Many people, myself included, have learned to embrace their natural hair color. With hair salons forced to close by pandemic protocols, I had no choice but to forsake blondness, and with time, I have come to appreciate my more authentic look.
The aging process is ultimately a hard thing to deny — not that I didn’t try! Even though I knew my hair was getting darker as I was getting older, I still identified as a blonde. But, of late, the truth has become known. I am a brunette and am having fun exploring this new look.
All of this may seem superficial, but beyond the surface, I had to be OK with me — especially through long months that involved a lot of isolation and reflection. I have worked on learning to derive some type of benefit from all experiences, good and bad. And I have become hyper-focused on what matters most to me: the people in my life and in the communities where I live and work.
Our neighbors, often the only people we saw for extended periods, have become like family. Restaurateurs, health care workers, essential workers of all kinds from truckers to teachers, and local businesses have gone above and beyond to take care of their staffs, their customers, acquaintances and each other.
Based on our shared experiences with hurricanes, the Great Recession and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, I knew the communities of the Emerald Coast to be resilient. The pandemic presented us with new challenges, but the commitment of people to each other and the gratitude of people for each other remained strong and true.
This year, the Best of the Emerald Coasts readers’ choice poll is especially poignant. I have seen businesses struggle to keep their doors open while thinking bigger than ever before and redoubling their commitments to being the best at what they do.
Please turn to page 86 to learn how you can participate in the 2021 poll. It feels good to support with your votes the businesses that enrich our lives and provide us with the goods and services we rely on.
I am grateful for the baristas and bartenders who deliver service with a smile; the shop owners who reliably have the perfect gift for my loved ones; the medical personnel who are always there when we need them; the service providers who keep our cars running, keep our houses cool and dash from door to door; and the band members who brighten my spirits every time I hear them play at my favorite nightspot. I applaud all of the businesses in our community; each has a survival story.
Let’s encourage businesspeople by voting for them, patronizing them and making it a point to tell them what they mean to us. Having had to get along without them for weeks or months, we know that we would never want to repeat that experience. It is true many times that we don’t know what we’ve got ’til it’s gone.
Every day, remind the people closest to you that you love them. Stay grateful, and embrace a spirit of personal growth and evolution. It is up to us to ensure that the change we have experienced lately is for the better.