Driftless Stories -

Winter 2023-24 Inspire(d) Editor’s Letter

By Aryn Henning Nichols | Winter 2023-24

You are Worthy: Believing in Yourself! (Read the Winter 2023-24 Inspire(d) issue online here.)

I know this affirmation stuff can feel a little (waves fingers) woowoo. It’s awkward to say stuff like “I am worthy,” aloud to yourself. But I think when things start to feel a little silly, you gotta push on through. This is the first step in not caring what other people think and believing in yourself.

This past November, our daughter ran a 5K with the local Girls on the Run group (great program, FYI!), and I volunteered to help on the 5K course. Being the seasoned cheerleader I am, I grabbed some pom poms from the costume bin and contemplated the unicorn wig. Was it too much? Yes. Probably. Was I going to do it anyway? Signs still point to yes.

I put it on before we drove over, because I was afraid I’d decide I didn’t need to be that mom, again. People stared at me. As I waited for the runners to reach my cheering corner, cars slowed down to gawk. I waved (and wavered) a little.

But when those girls came to my section, they were motivated! Unicorn horn-booping commenced, and they were rallied to continue on through the next miles in their run. 

This past year, our Inspire(d) Magazine themes have centered around an affirmation that I imagined myself cheering aloud to all of you, dear readers. You are Here. You are Fun. You are Inspired. You are Worthy

And now, as we’re peering straight into 2024, it’s time for you to take the reins. Believe it: You can do this! (Or, shall we all say, “I can do this!”)

This is a great time of year to look back on what you learned over the past 12 months, and what you’d like to do differently for the next 12. It’s also a time when we can be a little hard on ourselves. I know I am. “What?! Another year has gone by and I haven’t gotten that done yet? How can I possibly make new goals and plans when I didn’t even complete last year’s?”

I don’t know how many weeks I wished there was an extra day to get it all done. But there is no extra day. Okay, except this year and every four years after, in leap year. Generally, though, we’ve got to make the time. To take care of ourselves. To go beyond our comfort zones and reach for goals. To remember to rest. And then we’ve got to believe in ourselves and our abilities. 

Consider this issue a workbook on tapping into that self-care and self-efficacy. Don’t know that phrase yet? You can learn more about it in Olivia Lynn Schnur’s mental health article in this issue and get tons of great ideas in Lynsey D. Moritz’s story, “Self-care for the Season.” You’ll also read about Community Builders – Alison Bunge Leathers in Lanesboro, Missy Hoch in La Crosse, and Laura & Andy Patten in Viroqua – who believed they could help make their Driftless communities better. Jennifer Sime turns her grief from losing her son, Brendan, into passion for awareness. Jessica Rediske was brave enough to change life directions entirely in 2012 and build up Red-Roxy Quilt Co. in Decorah. All of these people realized they were worthy of their dreams.

So, this season, we encourage you to take a deep breath. Take care of yourself. Get rest. Get inspired. And if you can, get outside. Find inspiration while reading intern Peter Heryla’s story on Larry Reis and his 40 years as a naturalist for Winneshiek County, or while learning about lichen in conservation writer Craig Thompson’s piece. He writes, “Even the most unobtrusive forms of life are essential for a healthy planet.” Lichen are essential, and so are you.

Here’s to making 2024 the best year yet.

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

In this issue, you’ll find:

You are Worthy: Believing in Yourself! Jennifer Sime Larry Reis • Community Builders: Alison LeathersMissy HochCounty Seat Laundry • Sum of Your Biz: Red-Roxy Quilt Co.Mental Health: You are WorthySelf-Care for the SeasonDIY Affirmation Cards • Conservation: Lichens • Probit: Walter Langland