Danae Lenz

I’m turning 30 in a few short days. I may not be that old, but I can say definitively that 2020 is the worst year I’ve ever lived through. Maybe that makes the small miracles I’ve witnessed this year sweeter; maybe I’m just noticing them more as I get older.

Regardless, I think we all need some more optimism in our lives — more reason to hope for a better future — and so I thought I’d share a few small miracles I’ve witnessed this year.

We’ll start really small.

Most people with green thumbs would laugh at my attempt at gardening in the last few years. It’s been (to say the least) bad. But this year, I successfully grew tomatoes, peppers, spinach and arugula, as well as a few flowers. Sure, some plants died, but I brought a few others back from the brink of death. That’s a miracle to me.

I am a person who thrives in sunlight. In a period of social distancing, being outside has kept me blooming. When I first moved into my house, there was a tiny back porch and a really sad-looking yard. Last year, I invested in a patio, in comfortable furniture, in landscaping, and that investment has been a godsend to me this year. That’s a miracle to me.

As the business editor at the Journal, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know quite a few of the local business owners. Witnessing their resourcefulness and resilience over the past few months — and watching local residents come out in droves to support them — has been such a pleasure. That’s a miracle to me.

On top of the things that have taken months of cultivation, 2020 for me has also lent itself to several perfect days. I’ve had countless good, and even great, days in my life, but only a few of them have been what I would describe as perfect.

I decided this year to start a relationship with a man who’s been one of my best friends for many years. He’s an amazing person, my closest ally, my go-to human. In June, we met up in the middle of nowhere in Colorado. We were surrounded by mountains. We had no cell service. We played games. We went for walks in the hills. We laughed at my dog’s antics. That’s a miracle to me.

I don’t consider myself much of a teacher (I’m not patient enough), but I have found the perfect student. Over the years at the Journal, I’ve had a lot of freelancers who’ve worked for me. Many times, their stories need a lot of editing help. Recently, a young woman (fresh out of high school) reached out wanting to write. She didn’t have any reporting experience, but based on her academic writing, I knew she could string words together well. She asked for advice on how to write like a journalist, so I’ve spent a not insignificant amount of time coaching her. When she sent over her first article, it was basically perfect. It was pretty much exactly how I would have written it. That’s a miracle to me.

My parents were in town recently, and I introduced them to my Saturday tradition: go to the farmers market and then pop into a few businesses on the way to the crafters market on the other side of downtown. After the farmers market, we passed a beautiful, old, empty building I’ve been admiring and peeking inside its windows for a long time. Right as we were passing in front of it, the new owner pulled up and asked if we’d like to take a look around inside. Obviously, we did. And let me tell you, it was more amazing than I could have imagined. After that, we meandered to the crafters market, and then we went to the brewery next door, which recently added outdoor seating, and as soon as we arrived, the weather turned from gray to awesome. Then I decided to take my parents by Stan Gates’ renovated firehouse. Stan turned it into a personal gallery/hangout space that he opens to the public occasionally. As we were looking in the windows, he noticed us and invited us inside and gave my parents the grand tour. He recognized me and asked if I wanted to see the rooftop patio on one of his other buildings, which is something I’ve wanted to see for years, and it was just as amazing as I thought it would be. That’s a miracle to me.

Finally, about a month ago, my best friend and I went to one of my favorite places in the world: the Oregon coast. In the Portland area, we couldn’t be outside at all, because of the apocalyptic smoke. We escaped to the coast and while it was cloudy for most of the time, there was a magical moment when the sun broke through and we could see everything in all its glory. We even witnessed an elopement on the beach, which added to an already perfect day. That’s a miracle to me.

Listen. 2020 sucks. But there’s still magic — and miracles — to be found. When you find those moments, cherish them.

Danae Lenz is the business editor at the Idaho State Journal. She can be reached at dlenz@journalnet.com.