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Looking for Potential in 2022

Back Commentary Jan 3, 2022 By Winnie Comstock-Carlson

This story is part of our January 2022 print issue. To subscribe, click here.

Ellen Goodman, the syndicated columnist who won a Pulitzer Prize 42 years ago (and at 80, is still writing) knew something about new beginnings. “We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched,” she wrote more than a decade ago. “Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives … not looking for flaws, but for potential.”

Few of us are having a difficult time saying goodbye to 2021, which will be missed about as much as 2020 was. This past year we saw what we hoped was the definitive departure of the pandemic, only to see it reemerge. Ugh! The challenges we’ve all faced in our businesses and personal lives have strengthened us and prepared us for whatever uncertainties are waiting in the wings.

Now that we know the various steps we can take to help protect ourselves and others, I’m glad to say we’re now seeing both quiet and grand re-openings. People are once again going out to dinner, attending plays, ballets, lectures and concerts, attending sports events and going to the movies. We are refusing to be beaten, looking instead, as Ellen Goodman says, for potential. 

I personally enjoy the new year much more than I do the year-end holiday season, which is riddled with stress. The new year can be a time of new beginnings, new friendships and new opportunities. It can be a time to wipe the slate clean, start again and re-declare our values. 

For instance, the things that are most valued to me are my faith, my family, my health and my work. This list has guided me from a very young age and it’s something I think will never go out of date. 

Every time we’ve survived a tough time — a devastating recession, a deadly pandemic, spiraling inflation, up-and-down employment cycles — someone rushes to declare that henceforth we’ll all be living in a New Normal.  But if you’ve lived long enough to see how oceans, hemlines and economies rise and fall, this is ridiculous. Setbacks, disappointments and even catastrophic illness are normal. They’re part of life. And even if they change us, they’re changing us only in the moment. There’s no need for them to change who we fundamentally are. My own list isn’t going to change.

Shortly before 2021 drew to a close, several members of the Comstock’s staff and four generations of my family gathered at Cal Expo for the final season game of the Sacramento Republic FC. My four-generation family cheering section included my mom (who just turned 101 years old); my talented and beautiful daughter, Carmel; her husband, Tim; and one of my two grandchildren — 13-year-old Jack (16-year-old Bella was frolicking elsewhere that evening). As I looked at them, I felt a satisfying mixture of love, pride and even certainty: certainty that no matter what the future holds for all of us, here we were, sitting together, united by blood and human warmth. I remember and value so much a similar photograph taken when Carmel was born that included my grandmother in a four-generation shot. The game ended with a tie on that special night, but we all won simply by being together, snuggled together in the chill and sharing a bag of kettle corn.

As we enter 2022, I think we all need to consider how truly blessed we are. I know I’ve been blessed in countless ways that would fill a book were I to start listing them. Whenever you have a feeling of sadness, I encourage you to start writing a list of blessings you’ve had in your life and you’ll be amazed at the transformation in your mood. Hold on to that list for the next time you need a pick-me-up!   

One of my many blessings is that in July, this magazine will celebrate 33 years of not just great business journalism, and lots of industry awards, but also true storytelling. Not bad for a company that started on zero investment capital, and no bank loan for its first 5 years. Talk about a blessing!! And I give all the credit to the man upstairs. It’s well known that when we give to a cause or buy a product, we’re usually more inclined to give to, or buy from, people who share their stories. People are who and what make the world go ‘round and sometimes even make our hearts sing. This is why we’ve always tried to maintain a good balance of companies, people, regional issues and compassion in our stories. We enjoy introducing you to the people behind so many of our region’s success stories — they’re the people who are making things happen in our wonderful Capital Region.

My sincere wish for 2022 is that we’ll approach it with grace and consider it normal. Few things in life remain exactly the same, and this is all to the good: It adds color to our days and a glow to our dreams.

I hope to see you at events throughout the region and throughout the year. Let’s walk through those rooms of our lives with hope and promise. Happy, happy New Year!

Winnie Comstock-Carlson
President and Publisher

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