From the Editor

On all those Facebook lists of "How to be happy" that you reflexively click on, hoping to spy a magic tip, there includes some version of "avoid negative people." In the spirit of being happier, I prefer a more optimistic spin. Let's try this instead: "seek out positive people."

Who are these people? It's easy to come up with a close friend or two, a sister who makes you laugh or the women you have a glass of wine with once a month. But I'm struck more by the unexpected encounters with everyday people who surprise me with their positive energy. For example, there's the mom I met when our sons became friends in second grade. When we evolved to play dates, I'd race to drop my son off at her house, greedy for some precious free time-and then spend most of that time talking with her in her kitchen. It was wonderful. She was so positive, with such a genuine good nature, that I wanted to stay and soak her energy up.

It's a little ironic that I'm writing a letter about energy at the end of a week that's left me feeling drained from meeting deadlines and shuttling kids. But when I look back on it, I see it was also filled with encounters that took me by surprise and surrounded me, if only for a few minutes at a time, with positive people and good energy.

There was, for example, the last-minute interview that turned out to be so inspiring and delightful that I felt energized for the rest of the day. Popping in to a business to grab a quick photo led to a sweet discussion about community and children with the proprietor. Colleagues who said kind and affirming things to me, a surprise gift from a business owner, a friend who greeted me with a bear hug-my week, for all its demands, was actually packed with energizing moments. I only had to see them as such and slow down enough to soak up the positive.

This issue of Coulee Region Women is about adding that positive energy to your life. We've created this issue by seeking out positive people who, we hope, will energize and inspire you, too.

We begin with Becky Brudos, one of the most energizing women we know, on a quest to spread a love of fitness across generations. There's Vickie Stevenson, a local business owner who shows what the energy of a supportive family can do. There's our newest Coulee Region celebrity, Jen Barney, positively brimming with energy for the future of Meringue Bakery. We'll show you what's new in downtown revitalization and discover what happens when a teacher takes a class of curious kids outdoors. We'll energize you with coffee and community, the healing power of reiki, a trip to wine country and more.

And as you absorb the positive energy we hope you find in these pages, we want to remind you of one more thing: you are a positive person, too. You might be the one who brightens a stranger's day, who radiates the kindness we are craving, who says just the right thing or who gives a much-needed bear hug. Start seeing yourself that way, and believing it, and you won't have to look far for happiness.

Betty Christiansen



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What is inside this month's issue:

The Energizer
Among her students, Becky Brudos' passion for fitness is contagious.

Women-owned coffee shops provide community and revitalization.

"I Call Her Superwoman"
Vickie Stevenson's life is all about positive energy, both on the job and off.

Healthy Living
Energy for Healing
Reiki treatments free the body to relax and mend itself.

Harnessing Kid Energy
Teacher Jodi Hoscheit gets her students fired up about nature.

A New Old Home
A remodel brings new life and modern amenities to an older North Side home.

A Circle of Support
Middle-school Justice Circles offer a new way to solve problems and foster understanding.

Sweet Success
Baker Jen Barney takes the cake at the Holiday Baking Championship.

Good Food = Good Energy
Small Family Farm feeds the region with fabulous food.

City Revitalization
Downtown efforts build business, attract tourism and improve life for all in the region.

Retail Therapy
Energize Your Bedroom, Energize Yourself
Give your slumber sanctuary a revamp by introducing fresh décor.

Wine Country, Re-Energized
The Sonoma and Napa regions are welcoming you.


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