Ah, January, here we are, meeting again. The familiar high hopes and faithful plans of renewal, baked in with reflection and memories. Shades of the resolutions from last year are dusted off the shelves and we are collectively preparing ourselves for the year.

It’s really an attempt to distract from what experts claim is the most depressing time of the year, and when people are in a funk, they get cranky, angry and all the dirty laundry that flared up last month or last year or over the last decade gets to center stage.

So for my fellow Forest Parkers who are trying to keep the light shining and the darkness at bay, I thought I would focus my energy here on simple joy in January. After all, being positive and being present are two of the simplest ways to spend our time as we wait for the spring planting season.

The month opens with resolutions of hope — weight loss and fitness goals, super-positive mindset goals, financial goals and now in week three, we’re in the zone. 

So when the going gets tough and you need a pick-me-up, go to the grocery store. Here in Forest Park we live less than three miles from a dozen grocery stores. This is an extraordinary abundance, and the magnificent miracle of a blood orange, grapefruit, or winter squash can take one’s mind off just about anything. 

In addition, our hometown is also within three miles of more than a dozen gyms, fitness studios, and specialized exercise hubs. As a special 2023 bonus, Mother Nature has been gentle to the Midwest, so unleash an endorphin and serotonin boost on a brisk walk. Get outside during the day so you can sleep at night.

The power of a furry pal is high on the list, so shed the doldrums of loneliness and head over the Animal Care League’s website (or make an appointment) and see who needs you. Get yourself to the most welcoming place in town, the Forest Park Public Library; it is a gold mine of joy. Visit a small business on Madison Street; the owners are some of the kindest people on Earth. Stop in to say “hi,” window shop, or score a treasured item for your home or wardrobe. The buzz of positivity along Madison is infectious.

If crafting is your game, break open the supply bin and make a Valentine or Gal-entine or Pal-entine card. Get the love vibe started with a handmade craft — it works. Magic happens when we create a craft for someone special. Send a greeting or flowers to a senior in your building or on your block; they will love you back tenfold.

We are lucky to be in 2023 together, let’s shake off our flaws, fears and missteps and continue to build up the joy in our neighborhood.