Publisher’s Letter: 2020’s One Lesson!

By Blaine Howerton, Publisher
North Forty News

So far, 2020 has been the most challenging year of my life and it’s not even over yet!

Beginning in January, perhaps it might have been an omen when the small writer’s studio I had spent the summer of 2019 building blew off the mountain — thankfully, not with me in it. Or maybe another sign was when my truck got so stuck in the winter mud and stayed on the mountain frozen in place for more than a month.

But the signs kept coming! By March the global pandemic began sweeping through the country atomizing around 80% of our advertising revenue.

In May, after experiencing what so many Americans are enduring — already a month of homeschooling and working at home, I began to rebuild the studio. I spent weeks with my children digging a new foundation, camping in the back of my truck, and rebuilding the dream I had in 2018 to write in an inspiring mountain location.

While the times were very uncertain we were making some beautiful memories, especially when we witnessed the Neowise Comet and one of my children announced “Dad, this is the best day of my life!” I get goosebumps when I remember that moment that most parents would cherish.

Then my Grandma died. We struggled with whether we should go to the funeral — as to avoid any possibility of getting the entire family sick. I decided we had to go. It was my grandma’s funeral.

That week we decided with all that was going on, it was time to plan a vacation. We drove across the country, experiencing COVID checkpoints and a divided country over whether to wear a mask or not. But the landscape was beautiful. We had a fabulous time…until a few days later when I got sick. I had almost all the symptoms of Covid-19. At the time, I was sure I had contracted it. I had a dream my entire family died. It was the first time we had traveled in months. Then, we all got sick. My 7-year threw up all over the back seat of the car (probably motion sickness, but COVID was definitely on my mind).

Needless to say, we ended the vacation a day early and drove nearly 2,000 miles back to Fort Collins.

After quarantining for two weeks awaiting test results, we learned I just had a bad cold — everyone else was fine. So I went back to the drawing board again. I made progress on the writer’s studio and by mid-July, it had a roof.

PHOTO BY BLAINE HOWERTON: It isn’t lavish (and it’s small), but the North Forty News Writing Studio is coming along.

Through all that, my team and I put our heads down and worked our tails off to sustain and build North Forty News through such a difficult time that many local publications suspended their operations. Our ad sales started to rebound, our readership went back up and we received more quality contributed content than ever in the history of the newspaper (in the time I’ve owned it) — and our readers noticed the difference, measurable through the increased number of views our content garnered on our website.

So, here we are in mid-August, knowing our children won’t be back to school in person until at least October and they miss their friends. And we continue to face the challenge of spending all this time together in the same house which for the first time has begun to seem so small. On a brighter note, I am writing this in my rebuilt studio on the mountain — in times like these, I have to remember to be grateful for the things that turn out well.

In all this, I hope I learned an important lesson: Take one day at a time. Enjoy every day — there’s always “something” for which to be grateful. Taken only on the surface, life can seem grim and depressing. But things can always be worse and viewed with courage and positive expectation, today can always be a great new day. And tomorrow can always be better — but only if we work to make it better.



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Blaine Howerton

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