by Sarah Squires, editor-in-chief, Winona Post

I wrote this column last year, before the roaring ‘20s thawed us from our frozen sleep, before the flappers came out dancing and “The Great Gatsby” made a raging comeback. (“The Great Gatsby” was actually one of the books I had to analyze in AP English. I’m not sure if they make the kids do this today, but back then, we had to memorize long passages and the page numbers to match to prepare for our written essay exams. We had to be prepared to write a series of essays without notes that included direct quotes, and the theme of the essays was a surprise. That, my friends, was not something they ever made us do in college, but it was a good exercise in discipline. Fortunately, I can no longer recite pages of the novel on demand, so I’ll welcome the Gatsby comeback like an old friend whose voice I’ve nearly forgotten.)

I also wrote today’s front-page 2019 throwback before the clock struck midnight on New Year’s. As I went back through our pages documenting the year, I made a list of possible things to note. I thought, “I’ll just jot down anything that seems significant, and then go back and narrow it down.” Before I was halfway through the year the list had grown much longer than any top-10 countdown, and I scrolled back. Nothing I had noted deserved to be cut. In fact, so many wonderful and exciting things happened in 2019, I was struck by how quickly the Winona region is changing and growing. So many of the things to celebrate are ones that look to the future — from new construction projects to growth in educational institutions, to all the exciting things on the horizon. What other town could boast of so many multi-million-dollar projects, so many community accolades and growth? Think of all the fun things to come in 2020, with the Masonic Temple HVAC, a new senior center in the works, and the YMCA on its way with a new facility? Check out the story on page 1a and get excited for yourself!

One reason I’m particularly excited about the new YMCA is because in 2019 I became a Y member. I got a little tired of home exercise routines and the idea of a pool and whirlpool for my aching back was enough to get me in the door. It’s a pretty neat little (OK, big) family, and that’s exactly what it feels like. I’ve so enjoyed meeting people, getting book recommendations (for the most part, I read when I have a free hand while I’m exercising), and visiting. I think I look forward to heading to the Y more than I ever would if all it was was a workout. It’s a social thing, and I’m sure many of you will be joining me as we celebrate the New Year and seek ways of being more healthy and happy in 2020.

It’s hard to believe we’re already embarking on a new year, a new journey. Time can move pretty quickly — even in the dark days of winter — but one thing we can be sure of. The new year brings us new opportunities, new ways to live happier, to love more fully, and to embrace each day with more energy and mindfulness. Rather than chase weight-loss goals and other frivolous things in 2020, let’s focus on the big stuff: appreciating each day and each other, each opportunity and sunrise and sunset, as the gift it truly is. Health and happiness come to us when we are intentional about caring for ourselves and our lives, and 2020, in the Winona region, gives us plenty of ways to do it. 


Happy New Year!